Parents living separately must make co-parenting arrangements and develop a parenting plan that serves the children’s best interests. If you and your co-parent will not raise your children together in the same home, contact a local family attorney for help with custody and visitation issues.
You must submit your parenting plan to the judge for approval, which will become an enforceable court order. Getting it right could help your children adjust and lead to peace of mind. A Westport child custody lawyer from Freed Marcroft Divorce & Family Law understands what courts require and will support and enhance your efforts to create a workable parenting plan for your family.
Types of Child Custody and Details to Consider
Negotiating an effective and legally enforceable parenting plan can be challenging. Understanding some basic terms and how the law applies to custody decisions is critical.
Legal custody is the right to decide a child’s religion, education, healthcare, and similar matters. While courts often favor parents sharing legal custody, the judge can also award sole custody in some circumstances.
Physical custody is where a child lives most of the time. Like legal custody, parents can share physical custody, or the courts can award it to one parent.
Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-56a(d) requires you to submit a parenting plan to the court. The plan must describe who has legal and physical custody. If you share legal custody, it must include a mechanism to resolve disputes if you disagree.
The plan must describe where the children live and when they will spend time with each parent. It must also include details including who will be responsible for transportation, where the children will spend their holidays, and similar issues.
Best Interests of the Child
Judges base all custody decisions on the child’s best interests. The parent’s desires are secondary. The law considers an arrangement to be in a child’s best interests if, for example, it provides stability while meeting their educational, emotional, and health needs, as well as honoring their relationships with both parents, extended family, and community members.
Connecticut law does not discriminate between married and unmarried parents—all parents have a right to a meaningful relationship with their children unless the parent endangers the children’s safety and wellbeing. Sometimes an unmarried father must establish legal paternity before he can claim custody. Our Westport attorneys can explain the steps an unmarried father must take to obtain custody rights in a specific case.
Parent’s Gender Is Immaterial
The law is gender-neutral regarding custody rights. If the judge must decide custody, they consider what arrangement will most support the children’s best interests.
Developing a Parenting Plan
Negotiating a parenting plan often requires significant time and effort. Ideally, you and your co-parent can put your relationship issues aside and work together to develop a parenting plan that honors and nurtures your relationships with the children. If you can’t agree, you each submit a proposed plan to the court, and the judge decides.
Children and parents benefit when parents create a plan themselves. Working with a mediator is often helpful. Mediators know what judges look for in a parenting plan and are skilled at keeping discussions focused, productive, and centered on what is best for the children.
Our Westport custody attorneys can negotiate on your behalf and help you agree on a proposed parenting plan. We can also submit it to the court for review. Judges often approve plans the parents agree to and incorporate them into an enforceable order. If the judge believes the plan does not support the children’s best interests, they could revise a section or reject it and substitute a different plan. An experienced Westport child custody lawyer can explain what types of parenting plans judges tend to find in the child’s best interests.
Let Our Westport Child Custody Attorneys Help With Your Parenting Plan
Custody and visitation issues are complex and can be challenging to negotiate. Our team can set reasonable expectations and help you devise a plan that serves your children’s best interests.