Changes to Connecticut child custody law proposed

Two bills affecting child custody determinations have been filed in the Connecticut legislature this year.

Senate bill 659 provides that the court "shall clearly articulate specific findings as to each best interest factor considered when rendering a decision regarding the care, custody, education, visitation or support of a child." Under current law, the court "may" consider one or more of the best interest factors and is not required to articulate specific findings under each but rather to "articulate the basis for its decision." C.G.S.A. § 46b-56(c).

The best interest factors are as follows:

  • 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 in an effort 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 pendente lite in order 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
  • The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or the child
  • Whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected
  • Whether the party satisfactorily completed participation in a parenting education program established

The court is not required to assign any weight to any of the factors that it considers, but shall articulate the basis for its decision.

Source: C.G.S.A. § 46b-56(c)

The second piece of legislation, House Bill 6194, is meant to speed-up the child custody determination process. If enacted, it would give courts 15 days to issues a custody and visitation order, and if not ordered within 15 days, then parents share custody equally.

Speak to a child custody attorney

If you have questions about child custody in Connecticut, contact The Law Offices of James A. Cuddy, LLC, today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.