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Young’s e-mail address is gyoungnlj.com even though he had had sole weekday custody of his daughter for more than a year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Aug. 1 ruled that the girl’s father was not entitled to legal custody, even as it questioned the rigid applicability of the “best interests of the child” standard that produced the result. In re Custody of Kali, No. SJC-08940. By agreement between Kali’s parents, after the mother moved out of state for a job, the child lived with her father and spent weekends with her mother. Subsequently, a probate and family court judge awarded joint temporary legal and physical custody of Kali, with each having physical custody of her on alternating weeks. During the weeks that the girl was with her dad she would spend 11 hours a day in day care; during the weeks she was with her mom, nine hours a day in day care. Then, finding that the mother was more concerned with Kali’s physical and medical needs than the father, the judge awarded legal custody to the mother and divided physical custody between the parents. Kali was to reside principally with her mother, while the father would have custody three weekends a month. On appeal, the state’s highest court affirmed the judgment. Acknowledging that the “best interests” standard has been criticized for leading to “the systematic imposition by courts of unnamed prejudices,” the court cited to G.L. c. 209C § 10, a state statute requiring judges to consider maintaining the bonds between a child and her caregiver. It concluded that the lower court’s order, despite shifting primary physical custody to the mother, had done so.

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