On February 1, 2012, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a lower court decision granting custody of a child to the husband of the child’s deceased mother and not to his biological father.
The Court found that consideration of what is in the child’s best interests…weighs more heavily than the genetic link between parent and child. The facts in this case were complicated by the fact that since his birth the now nine year old boy, Samuel, had been living with his mother, her husband and their now thirteen year old son, Frederick. The judge found that “they play sports together, walk to school together, and do their homework together.” Prior to the mother’s death, Samuel’s biological father had never challenged Samuel’s paternity and Samuel identified the husband as “daddy”. The Court also found that since the mother’s death, the husband had assumed all parenting of both Samuel and Frederick and that the boys enjoy a strong brotherly bond.
In support of its reasoning the Court stated that “Being an occasional caregiver is far different from providing the daily necessities of life to Samuel, encouraging his loving relationships with family members, and providing and supporting schooling, sports, and other activities that are the hallmarks of a healthy upbringing. The husband, not the father, is the one who has done all of that.”