The mother has sole legal and physical custody of your child if there is no court order about custody of your child.
If you are not married and you need a custody order, the judge must1 :
- preserve the relationship between the child and their primary caretaker as much as possible;
- take into account who the child lived with during the 6 months before the custody case began;
- take into account if the parent has a personal and parental relationship with the child; and
- take into account if the parent has exercised parental responsibility in the child’s best interest, like providing a home, making medical appointments, and getting your child to school on time.
The judge can only order shared custody if the parents have
- a custody agreement; or
- successfully exercised parental responsibility together, like making good decisions jointly, before the case was filed.
1 The law: General Laws, Chapter 209C, section 10.