For parents, there are few things more important than the health and safety of their child, as well as the relationship they maintain with their child. This is part of the reason why divorce – and determining who a child should live with after divorce – can be so devastating; divorce is not only trying for parents, but also potentially psychologically harmful to a child. There is nothing easy about deciding how parents will share time.
At the Upton Law Firm, we know that child custody laws can be confusing, and that child custody cases can be emotionally taxing. If you are separating from your child’s other parent and need to decide about custody, our lawyers can help. We are skilled child custody attorneys that advocate for a child’s best interests and have a proven track record in child custody cases.
Types of Child Custody in Connecticut
The state of Connecticut recognizes two primary types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.
- Physical custody. Physical custody refers to the primary responsibility for the physical well-being and safety of the child, including providing shelter, food, clothing, etc. Physical custody may be awarded to the parent with whom the child primarily resides; this is referred to as Primary Residence. Primary residence is typically determined by the means of the parent, the school system that the child(ren) participate in, or other circumstances which are in the child’s best interest. In extreme circumstances where physical custody is awarded to one parent, the noncustodial parent may still have visitation rights with the child. Courts favor arrangements in which both parents continue to remain in a child’s life.
- Legal custody. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to whether or not a parent has the ability to make decisions regarding the child and the child’s life. Parents with legal decision-making abilities can make decisions about the child’s religious upbringing, education, healthcare, and more.
In addition to physical and legal custody of a child, the court also recognizes both sole and joint custody arrangements. As found in Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-56(a), the court may assign parental responsibilities jointly, or may award responsibilities to either parent, or even a third party in some cases. When custody is shared, both parents may have physical custody of the child, legal custody of the child, or both. Joint custody is typically awarded when both parents have a desire for shared custody and agree to work together to make major decisions regarding the child’s life and work in an amicable way to resolve any disagreements regarding the child.
How Child Custody Is Determined
Determining how custody should be split between parents is never an easy thing. When deciding about physical and legal custody, the court urges parents to work together to come to a decision on their own before asking the court to intervene. Upon separation or divorce, parents should work together to compose a proposed parental responsibility plan. The plan will ask parents to create a schedule for time-sharing with the child, address who will be responsible for making decisions about the child’s life and address how any disagreements between parents will be resolved.
Working with your child’s other parent to create a parenting plan is almost always within the best interests of all parties involved. Parents who cooperate often maintain a healthier relationship, which can be extremely beneficial for a child.
In addition to protecting the emotional and psychological well-being of your child by working together to form a parental responsibility plan, parents who keep things out of the courtroom will also save time and money. Litigation can be very expensive, not to mention stressful.
Of course, not all parents are able to work together. Some divorces are too catastrophic and emotionally harmful for parties to be able to compromise. If mediation and negotiation fail, you may have to bring your child custody case to court.
If your case goes to court, custody will be decided by a judge. The judge will base their custody decision on the best interests of the child. To determine the child’s best interest, the judge will consider the following factors, as outlined in Connecticut General Statutes 46b-56(c):
- The developmental needs of the child;
- The temperament of the child;
- The ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs;
- The preferences of the child;
- The relationship that the child maintains with each parent and any other party who may be affected by the decision, such as a sibling;
- The willingness of each parent to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent;
- Any attempt by either parent to involve the child in a parental dispute;
- The child’s adjustment to school, community, and home;
- The stability of the child’s current and proposed residence;
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved;
- Any occurrence of abuse or domestic violence; and
- Any other factors the court finds relevant.
If your case goes to court, you will need to provide evidence to prove that the child remaining in your custody is within the child’s best interest. Types of evidence that may be important include statements from the child’s teachers or school counselor, testimony from a child psychologist, and perhaps even a statement from the child expressing preference, too. In these situations, unless a child is being harmed, most school workers prefer not to get in parental tension. You may need an experienced attorney to assist with the best way to deal with these types of situations.
Call an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Connecticut Today
The idea of losing custody of your child is probably heartbreaking. When you are faced with a child custody dispute, calling an experienced lawyer who knows how to competently advocate for you is important. At The Upton Law Firm, our Connecticut child custody lawyers have over 40 years’ worth of legal experience and know what it takes to help you through a child custody case.
To schedule a consultation with our law firm today, please call us directly at 860-893-0558 or visit our West Hartford location in person today. You can also tell us more about your case and the legal services you need by sending us a message using the contact form found on our website. We always put our clients first.