New Canaan Child Custody Lawyer
When parents file for divorce, child custody issues are a top concern. Questions we often hear include: who will the child live with after the divorce is finalized? How much time will I get to spend with my child? What factors will the court take into consideration when determining who is responsible for the child's well-being and cultural upbringing? Do Connecticut judges favor situations in which both parents remain equally involved in raising the child? These are all important questions, and below we briefly outline how the law views child-related issues within a divorce. As always, our family law attorneys with years of experience focusing on child custody matters, are available to support you in this process.
Child Custody and Parenting Time Explained
The term “child custody” can generally be broken down into two distinct categories; legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to decision-making rights with respect to major decisions concerning a child, for example, decisions regarding a child's education, health/medical treatment, and religious upbringing. Notably, the vast majority of Connecticut parents share joint legal custody. It tends to be the exception, rather than the rule, for one parent to have sole legal custody.
Physical custody refers to a child's residential schedule with either parent. What was once called “visitation,” is now generally referred to as “parenting time.” Parenting time refers to the actual time during which a parent is responsible for the care of a child and any routine day-to-day decision-making responsibilities with respect to that child.
A Parenting Plan is a written agreement between two parents that lays out each parent's rights and responsibilities concerning the custody and care of their children. A parenting plan typically includes provisions addressing legal custody (i.e., decision-making), as well as a detailed parenting schedule.
No two parenting plans are exactly alike. The Family Law Firm of Healy + Eliot is committed to helping families in Fairfield County, Connecticut negotiate and craft Parenting Plans specifically tailored to address the unique needs of any particular family, and in a manner that preserves and protects the safety and well-being of children.
Best Interests of the Child
Divorcing parents are, of course, free to resolve all custodial issues through the negotiation and execution of a comprehensive parenting plan. If parents cannot reach an agreement on custodial issues, a judge will make determinations regarding allocation of decision-making responsibilities and parenting time based upon what is in the child's best interests. Some of the factors a court will consider in making custody determinations that are in the best interests of a child include but are not limited to, the following:
- The temperament and developmental needs of the child;
- The capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
- Any relevant and material information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child;
- The wishes of the child's parents as to custody;
- The past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child's siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the best interests of the child;
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders;
- Any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents to involve the child in the parents' dispute;
- The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
- The length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity in such environment provided the Court may consider favorably a parent who voluntarily leaves the child's family home pending litigation to alleviate stress in the household;
- The stability of the child's existing or proposed residences, or both;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child;
- The child's cultural background.
Connect with one of our Experienced New Canaan Child Custody Lawyers
If you have questions about child custody and parenting time in Connecticut, the child custody lawyers at The Family Law Firm of Healy + Eliot can help. To schedule an in-person or virtual meeting with one of our New Canaan child custody lawyers, please call 203-652-8018, or complete our online contact form.