According to a nationwide report card issued by the National Parents Organization, Massachusetts scored a grade of “C” for the state’s level of support for equally shared child custody. That places the Bay State in the middle of the scoring range with 15 other states also receiving the same grade.

Overall, the NPO report revealed disparity across the nation in the area of statutory provisions promoting shared parenting. Only two states scored an “A” on the report, and 16 received a grade of “D” or less.

What is a shared parenting state?

According to the National Parents Organization, any state that received a grade of “C” met the minimum requirements for qualifying as a shared parenting state. Basically, this means that a state has taken at least some legislative steps to either promote or define the assumption that children of divorced couples fare better when they spend an equal amount of time with both parents. This assumption would prevail even in cases of a conflict regarding custody between the ex-spouses, but it also assumes that there are no issues of violence or abuse involved.

Why does the NPO advocate for shared parenting?

As reported by US News, the NPO’s findings connected 90% of runaway and homeless children and more than 60% of adolescent suicides to single-parent family situations. The organization’s goal is for both ex-spouses to share in at least one-third of the divorced couple’s parenting time.

How did Massachusetts get a “C” grade?

A contributing factor to Massachusetts earning its “C” grade is its rebuttable assumption stance regarding shared legal custody for children in divorce cases. This means that the state’s courts presume shared custody is in the best interests of the children unless successfully proven otherwise through written findings. The state’s courts do not, however, have a legislative preference for shared custody, nor does the state encourage it.

Massachusetts defines four different child custody arrangements and encourages divorcing parents to decide on their own parenting-plan choice. If the soon-to-be ex-spouses cannot come to a decision, the court will then make one for them.