Connecticut gives preference to joint custody of children if possible
Research has shown that children do better with both parents actively involved in the child’s life. That is why, absent any other factors, courts in Connecticut prefer some form of joint custody of a minor child. A judge does not have to grant joint custody, however, especially if there is a history of domestic abuse or other reason to deny a parent custody rights.
State laws reflect the fact that both parents have an equal right to be parents to their children. State laws are gender neutral, and neither a mother nor a father is given automatic preference in custody matters. The prevailing perception remains that mothers are favored in family law matters, however, despite the current state of the law.
Along with the right to be a parent comes an obligation. That means both parents are also equally responsible to financially care for children, whether they live with the child or not. This means that a noncustodial parent must pay child support. The amount of child support is determined by the income of the parents, the needs of the child and how much time each parent spends with the child, among other factors.
Parents often choose first to resolve custody matters between themselves before taking the issue to court. Often this is the first preference of parents who wish to care for their children jointly. The benefits of resolving child custody issues between parents include:
- A more amicable relationship between the parents
- Fewer delays and lower cost
- Having a say in custody matters
Of course, not all parents will be able to agree on a mutually satisfactory solution to custody. In that case, the court will step in to determine child custody. A judge will do this according to what is in the best interests of the child, considering a variety of factors. Under state law, a court will decide custody based on:
- The needs of the child
- The capacity of the parents
- The preference of the child
- The preference of the parents
- Which parent is more willing to share parenting duties with the other
- The stability of the living situation of the child
- Other relevant factors relating to the welfare and benefit of the child
A family law attorney can help
Caring for a child is often the biggest concern of parents, whether they are divorcing, separating or establishing a parenting plan. Parents concerned about child custody matters should contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss their options and first steps moving forward.