Understanding the CT Courts’ Perspective on a Child’s Best Interest: Key Factors and Considerations

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Child's best interests Connecticut courts' view by freed marcroft ct family law attorneysYou may have heard the expression “child’s best interest” in Connecticut divorce and custody cases.  But what is the CT court’s perspective on what’s in a child’s bests interests?  How do judges make that determination?

In matters involving child custody and visitation, it is crucial to clearly understand the factors and considerations that the family courts take into account.  Today, we will explore the court’s role in determining what’s in a child’s best interests, and shed some light on the key factors that shape the court’s decisionmaking process.

Finally, just as your perspective on parenting might not be identical to your ex’s, it’s important to know that it might not be the same as Connecticut judges’ outlook on custody.  Therefore, we will also discuss that the CT court’s view on what’s in a child’s best interests may not necessarily line up exactly with your view.  By gaining insights into the Connecticut court’s perspective, you will be better equipped to navigate the complexities of child custody cases and make the best decisions for your family.

Role of the CT Court in Determining a Child’s Best Interests

When it comes to determining custody and parenting, the Connecticut court plays a vital role.  When it comes to determining a child’s best interests, the Connecticut court plays a vital role.  While courts must consider the rights, wishes, and desires of the parents, “it is nevertheless the ultimate welfare of the child which must control the decision of the court.

In ruling on custody and determining the child’s best interests, the court may consider one or more of the 17 factors listed in the Connecticut custody laws.  Judges can also decide to consider other factors instead or as well.  In other words, judges have significant discretion when determining the best interests of children.

The court’s primary objective is to make decisions that prioritize the well-being and welfare of the child.  In doing so, the court considers various factors.  The court may make these decisions based upon evidence presented during contested custody proceedings.  Or, when the parents reach an agreement on a proposed parenting plan, we file it with the court so that the judge can review and confirm that the plan is in the best interests of the child.

Read: How Do Connecticut Courts Determine Child Custody?

Factors the CT Courts Consider When Evaluating a Child’s Best Interests

Again, it is important to note that the court’s primary focus is on what is in the child’s best interests, rather than the desires or preferences of the parents.  While the parents’ wishes for custody are among the factors that the court can consider, ultimately the child’s best interest remains at the forefront of judges’ decisionmaking process.

Other factors courts consider can include:

  • Emotional and physical health of the child and parents
  • Stability and continuity of the child’s current or proposed environments
  • Temperament and developmental needs of the child, and
  • the parents’ capacity to understand and meet the child’s needs.

Read: Full Custody vs. Joint Custody

Presumptions Involving the Child’s Best Interests

Background on Presumptions in the Law

A presumption is a legal concept that allows a court to assume a fact is true until there is enough evidence that disproves or outweighs the presumption.  In other words, the court starts with the assumption that something is true until there is enough evidence to prove otherwise.  Most presumptions can be “rebutted” — in other words challenged and overturned — if the evidence casts sufficient doubt on them or if proven to be false.  In other words, if there is enough evidence to disprove or cast doubt on a presumption, judges can reject it.

There are two main presumptions at play when CT courts evaluate what’s in the child’s best interests.

Joint Custody Presumption

First, there is a presumption surrounding the joint custody and children’s best interests.  when both parents agree to joint custody, CT has a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child.

Parent Presumption

Second, there is a presumption it’s in a child’s best interest to be with their parents.  In other words, when there is a custody dispute over a minor child between a parent and a nonparent, it is generally presumed that it is in the best interest of the child to be in the parent’s custody.  However, this presumption can be challenged by providing evidence that granting custody to the parent would harm the child.

Advantages of Legal Representation from a Child Custody Attorney

Navigating child custody cases can be legally and factually complex — not to mention emotionally challenging.  An experienced family law attorney can provide guidance on how courts may view your custody situation.  For example, Freed Marcroft’s attorneys can assist with negotiating a joint custody arrangement that a court is likely to recognize as in your child’s best interests under the joint custody presumption.  We can strategize about the best approach to achieve this, including whether via mediation, collaborative law, or through settlement in a litigated custody matter.  We can also explain how in some situations co-parenting counselors can work with you and your child’s other parent to craft a workable parenting plan, reduce conflict, and enhance your communication skills.

In high-conflict contested custody matters, we can explain how expert testimony from professionals such as psychologists or social workers may be beneficial in supporting your arguments for what’s in the child’s best interests.

We can also explain the potential role of a Guardian ad Liem (GAL) and whether it makes sense to involve a GAL in your case.

Finally, we can share our experience on how judges may view your particular circumstances with respect to what’s in the child’s best interest.

Read: Importance of Hiring a Local Lawyer for Your Family Law Matter

Read: What Is a Guadian ad Litem (GAL)

Next Steps

Understanding the Connecticut court’s perspective on determining a child’s best interests is essential for parents involved in custody disputes.  By being aware of the key factors and considerations that shape the court’s decisionmaking process, parents can better navigate the complexities of child custody cases.  Prioritizing the child’s well-being, maintaining effective communication with the other parent, and seeking legal representation are crucial steps in ensuring the best outcome for the child.  Remember, the Connecticut court’s view on what is in a child’s best interests may not align exactly with your perspective, but by gaining insights into the court’s perspective, you can work towards a resolution that benefits your child’s overall well-being and development.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC