Child Custody Decisions in Connecticut

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 How Do a Child's Best Interests Help Determine Child Custody in Connecticut?

In most cases, Connecticut child custody laws allow parents to determine their custody agreement so long as it follows their child’s best interests. Parents can determine their agreement with or without the assistance of an attorney or family law professionals, but a court will review that agreement to ensure that it is within the child’s best interests.

Moreover, many different factors are used to make this determination, including each parent’s ability to meet their child’s needs, to be actively involved in their child’s life, and to encourage the relationship between the child and their other parent. Connecticut courts consider it crucial that each parent is willing and actively encouraging the child to have a relationship with their other parent.

A court may grant less custody time to a parent who is less encouraging of this or who tends to involve the child in conflicts between parents. While these are a few important factors, a custody arrangement in Connecticut should be determined after looking at all possible factors.

Furthermore, both physical and legal custody must be determined in each Connecticut child custody case. Joint physical custody will provide both parents significant, if not equal, time to have their child living with each of them. Joint legal custody will grant both parents the authority to make important decisions about the child’s life, including education, healthcare, and religion. Joint physical and legal custody will be awarded to Connecticut parents under certain provisions.

These provisions consist of settling on a living arrangement for the child based on the needs of all parties involved and agreeing on how the parents will consult one another about major decisions concerning the child. Even if joint physical custody is not awarded, Connecticut courts will often grant joint legal custody.

What are the Child Custody Arrangements in Connecticut?

Our Family Wizard website states that a Connecticut judge may order a sole custody arrangement if a joint custody agreement is not reached. Sole physical custody will permit the child to reside solely with one parent, while the non-custodial parent may have adequate visitation rights. Sole legal custody will award one parent full responsibility to make major decisions about the child’s life.

Although Connecticut courts usually prefer joint legal custody arrangements, a court will order sole legal custody if it is deemed in the child’s best interests. A case where sole custody might be suitable is a case in which abuse is an issue.

Furthermore, If a parent is not awarded physical custody, they can still be eligible for visitation rights. If a parent with physical custody is uncomfortable with the other parent having visits alone with the child, the custodial parent may request that the judge order supervised visitation. This would permit the non-custodial parent to spend time with their child under the supervision of someone such as another relative or even a family law professional.

In many cases where supervised visitation is implemented, it is only temporary. If the supervised visitations go as planned, the judge may allow for future visitations to be unsupervised. A non-custodial parent in this situation can find that they are awarded more visitation time, or even custody, by the time the case is finalized.

Once a final custody or visitation agreement is made, co-parents must find a way to communicate about the parenting schedule, important medical details, parenting expenses, and anything else dealing with their child and their agreement. The Our Family Wizard website creates a neutral, secure platform that the whole family can utilize to prioritize everything relevant to your family.

Generally speaking, under a joint legal custody arrangement, parents are obligated to consult with one another regarding major decisions impacting the child. Major decisions often involve those related to the child’s health, growth and development, choice of schools, religion, course of study, travel, employment, sports and activities, and significant changes in the child’s social environment.

On the other hand, the parent with physical custody of the child typically has the right to make less significant, day-to-day decisions while the child is in their care. This allows a parent to determine, for instance, what the child will wear to school, or what the child will have for dinner without repeatedly consulting the other parent throughout the day.

In the context of a joint legal custody arrangement, the degree to which each parent has a right to participate in the decision-making process may considerably vary from one case to the next. In one case, the parents may be on equal footing, whereas in another, certain decisions may be allocated to one parent or the other.

For instance, one parent may have the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, while the other may have the right to decide regarding the child’s medical treatment. In other cases, the parents may be mandated to consult with one another on major issues concerning the children, but one parent may have the final say on certain issues.

Keep in mind that in joint custody arrangements, both parents usually have the authority to make emergency decisions on the child’s behalf without consulting with the other parent. For instance, if the child is injured while in one parent’s care, that parent generally has the right to decide on emergent treatment.

Most often, parents that share joint legal custody also share joint physical custody, with one parent designated as the primary custodial figure. Generally, “joint physical custody” does not translate to “shared custody” or “50/50” parenting time. Instead, joint custody refers to arrangements whereby the child lives with one parent on a primary basis, subject to flexible and liberal visitation with the other parent.

An example of a joint custody arrangement involves the child living with their mother, subject to visitation with their father every other weekend (often overnight, beginning after school on Friday afternoon through Sunday evening), as well as one or two evening visits per week for dinner. However, this is by no means the law, and this model is becoming more common as parties increasingly turn to more innovative and creative models.

Do Connecticut Courts Encourage Parents to Cooperate to Raise the Child?

Marital laws state that Connecticut courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who wants to work with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Connecticut law favors co-parenting as being in the child’s best interests, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to separate their child from the other parent.

In Connecticut, the court does consider the child’s reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may consider the child’s age, maturity, and judgment when determining the child’s custody preference.

Contact a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns at all regarding custody rights and other family law issues. An attorney can provide you with the legal guidance and representation needed for your specific case issues.

When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

If you reside in Connecticut and are dealing with child custody issues, do not hesitate to contact your local Connecticut child custody attorney to assist you with your case.

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