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If a married parent asks for a temporary custody order, how does the judge decide?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed February 2022

If you are married and file for divorce, separate support, or custody, both parents have temporary shared legal custody of their children automatically.

But the court can order temporary sole legal custody to one parent. Then the judge must write down why temporary shared legal custody is not in your child’s best interests.

If the judge decides temporary shared legal custody is not in your child’s best interest, the judge must consider all the important facts including if:

  • any member of the family abuses alcohol or drugs,
  • a parent has deserted your child, and
  • both parents are willing and able to work together to care for your child.

The judge must consider all other important facts, not just these.

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