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Mother granted child custody despite time behind bars

Since a child's welfare is of utmost importance to parents, child custody disputes are often very emotional. Massachusetts child custody and visitation cases are decided based on what is in the best interests of the child. In general, a secure and loving relationship with both parents is presumed to be in a child's best interests. However, many cases involve the suitability of a parent and the safety of a child in that parent's care. Drug abuse, alcoholism and family violence are serious problems that must be addressed before custody or unsupervised visitation will be awarded.

These potential issues are highlighted by a recent decision in a complicated child custody case. A battered wife was awarded the right to raise her children. However, she is currently in jail for attempting to hire a hit man to kill her husband. The woman was jailed on charges of incitement to murder and cause injury after police were tipped off to her plan. The mother's parole is set to expire in February 2014.

Her allegedly violent ex-husband recently tried to gain 50-50 custody of their two children. A judge ruled that when the mother's parole expires, she will have sole parental custody of the children. Her children are currently living with their maternal grandparents and remain traumatized by the events that led to their mother's arrest. Both the mother and children undergo counseling on a regular basis.

The judge refused to grant the father unsupervised visitation rights due to his failure to undergo drug-screening tests. The judge also found evidence that both parents used illegal drugs and drank excessive amounts of alcohol during the marriage.

The father denied the domestic violence allegations. However, the judge found that he "exposed" his children to "serious and ongoing domestic violence." The children are currently seeing their father every four to six weeks during supervised visitation.

Source: Herald Sun, "Kids awarded to wife who hired hitman," Ainsley Pavey, Oct. 26, 2012

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