8 Factors Connecticut Courts Consider for Custody and Visitation

by McConnell Family Law

When you enter into a custody order, provided by you or the court system, you are agreeing to follow the order in its entirety or face the consequences set by the judge. The basis of custody orders in Connecticut is whatever is in the best interests of the child. As co-parents, you can come up with your own plan if it serves your child’s best interests. Here’s what you need to know about child custody arrangements.

In this blog, we are highlighting our Greenwich office, one of five convenient locations. Navigating custody and visitation cases in Connecticut requires a thorough understanding of the key factors considered by courts. At McConnell Family Law, our skilled Greenwich child custody lawyers can provide personalized and effective legal strategies to safeguard your parental rights and the well-being of your children. We can tailor legal strategies to reflect your unique circumstances, demonstrating to the court your commitment to your child’s welfare. For legal assistance, reach out to us at (203) 541-5520.

Legal custody is when a parent has the power to make key decisions on behalf of the child, such as medical, educational, or religious choices. Normally, parents will share joint legal custody and share this power even when sole physical custody is granted to one parent alone. Unless impossible, such as in abuse cases, Connecticut courts will lean towards joint legal custody.

Physical custody is the right for a parent to physically live with their child. Joint custody means the child will spend significant time at both parents’ homes, and sole custody is when a child primarily lives with one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. Custody is considered joint even if the child doesn’t spend equal time at both homes.

Making Your Own Custody Agreement

Connecticut law allows parents to create their own custody agreement outside of a courtroom, with or without a lawyer’s help. Just know that the court will still review the custody agreement to be sure it’s in the child’s best interests.

Factors for Child’s Best Interests

Family courts look at any factor they believe is relevant to the custody case, but they’re not supposed to weigh any specific factor above the others. Instead, decisions should be made by looking at all of the presented evidence. To determine a child’s best interests in coming up with a custody agreement, Connecticut General Statute §46b-56(c) requires Connecticut courts to consider the following factors:

  1. Can the parent understand and meet the child’s needs?
  2. Is the parent willing to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent?
  3. Is the parent’s living situation stable?
  4. Does the parent want custody?
  5. What are the child’s needs and temperament?
  6. Is the parent actively involved in the child’s life?
  7. What kind of relationship does the child have with each parent?
  8. If the child is old enough, what are their wishes for custody?
Factors for Child’s Best Interests Description
Parent’s Ability to Meet Child’s Needs Assessing if the parent can understand and fulfill the child’s requirements effectively.
Willingness to Encourage Relationship Determining if the parent supports and fosters the child’s relationship with the other parent.
Stability of Parent’s Living Situation Evaluating the stability and suitability of the parent’s residence for the child’s well-being.
Parent’s Desire for Custody Considering the parent’s willingness and desire to obtain custody of the child.
Child’s Needs and Temperament Understanding the specific needs and temperament of the child in the custody arrangement.
Parent’s Active Involvement Examining the level of the parent’s involvement and engagement in the child’s life and activities.
Child’s Relationship with Parents Assessing the quality and nature of the child’s relationship with each parent individually.
Child’s Wishes for Custody If applicable, considering the preferences and wishes of the child regarding custody arrangements.

At What Age Can A Child Refuse To See A Parent In CT?

In Connecticut, there is no specific age when a child can legally refuse visitation with a parent. Instead, the determining factor for the court is the best interest of the child. While the child’s preference is considered, especially for older children like teenagers, it is not the decisive factor. 

Factors such as the child’s age, maturity level, and intellectual ability are evaluated by the court to determine the significance of the child’s preference. Even for mature and expressive children, courts may still enforce visitation if it is deemed in the child’s best interests. This is because the law prioritizes the child’s well-being over their stated preferences in matters of custody and visitation.

When a child objects to visitation, it is essential for parents to communicate effectively and consider the child’s developmental needs. They may need to be flexible with arrangements, such as adjusting weekends or planning visits during the week. If there are continual problems with visitation refusal or suspicions of one parent undermining the other’s visitation rights, legal intervention might be necessary.

Parents facing challenges with custody and visitation enforcement or adherence are encouraged to seek legal advice. An experienced Greenwich child custody lawyer can provide guidance and represent parents in court to protect and promote the child’s best interests. The McConnell Family Law Group has years of experience creating parenting plans and trying custody cases. We’ll help you get the most time possible with your child following a divorce. We help our clients find Peace Through Strength! Contact us today!

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