How do Connecticut Courts Decide on Child Custody?

Whether you’re deciding on child custody in court or working out an agreement with the other parent, the courts will always have the final word on your child custody arrangements. When the court rules on a child custody order, you and the other parent are legally bound to its rules. How exactly do courts decide on child custody in Connecticut? Let’s take a look at the legal concepts involved in the decision.

Two Types of Custody

First, it’s important to understand that the courts will be making decisions about two different types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the child’s living situation. If you are given sole physical custody, your child will physically live with you, while the other parent will generally have rights to visitation. A joint custody plan, on the other hand, means your child will spend time living with both of you, even if the amount of time is not exactly equal.

Legal custody gives parents the ability to make major decisions for their children in terms of their education, healthcare, and religion, among others. Again, sole legal custody means only one parent will have this decision-making power. Connecticut courts tend to prefer granting joint legal custody, allowing both parents to share the ability to make decisions for the children.

The Child’s Best Interest

Connecticut courts decide on child custody based on the “child’s best interest” standard. In other words, they will give the child’s needs and interests top priority when making a decision.  The court may take older children’s wishes into consideration, but this is just one of several factors that Connecticut courts will use to decide on child custody.

Questions Asked by the Courts

Your child’s needs. What are your child’s developmental needs, including their physical, emotional, educational, and special needs? Are you and the other parent able to understand and meet your child’s needs? The courts will evaluate your ability to stay active in your child’s life and provide for him or her. Your child’s cultural background may also come into play.

Your child’s relationships. How is the relationship between your child and each parent? What about siblings? Are you willing and able to encourage a good relationship between your child the other parent? The court will frown upon any evidence that you or the other parent has tried to involve your child in your disputes through manipulative or coercive behavior.

Your child’s living situation. Is your child well-adjusted to his or her home, school, and community? Is the child living in a stable environment? The courts will consider how long your child has been living in a stable, satisfactory environment, because they may wish to keep the child in that environment.

The health of everyone involved. Are you in good physical and mental health? What about the other parent? Keep in mind that a disability won’t disqualify a parent from having custody unless the arrangement truly doesn’t benefit the child.

Other factors. Has there been any domestic violence in the household, either against the child, a sibling, or a parent? Has there been any abuse or neglect? The courts will treat these situations very seriously and make an effort to keep the child safe.

Even if you’ve chosen to work out a child custody arrangement with the other parent, you must take care to involve a competent attorney in the process. At Freed Marcroft, we understand that emotions may be running high in any sort of conflict involving your children. Our family lawyers can handle the legal nuances of child custody proceedings on your behalf, taking care to emphasize your child’s best interests while keeping your own needs in focus. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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