When Connecticut courts are asked to make a custody decision in the event divorcing parents are not able to come to an agreement on their own, they will make their determinations through the lens of what is in the child’s best interests. While the court will take into account the wishes of each parent regarding custody, the law provides that the ultimate controlling factor is always what will be best for the child.
When making custody decisions, judges are directed to consider a number of factors clearly established by statute. Courts consider the child’s developmental and emotional needs, the ability of the parents to individually meet the needs of their child, how each parent interacts with the child, how well the child gets along with siblings in the home and what the child’s own preferences are if they are sufficiently mature to express their preferences.
In situations in which there has been abuse, domestic violence or drug and alcohol problems, courts can choose to award custody to one parent while greatly limiting contact of the child with the other parent. Courts will not place a child in a situation that could pose danger to them. Conversely, if one parent has tried to manipulate or involve the child in the custody dispute, courts will look with disfavor upon that behavior.
There are several other factors that are important to courts in making child custody decisions. Courts also consider how well adjusted a child is to the community in which he or she lives and in the school at which he or she attends in cases in which parents live in different towns or school districts. It is important for parents to understand the factors and to gather proof regarding each factor to present to the court in the event they are unable to reach an agreement.
Source: Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries , “Best Interest of the Child Standard in Connecticut“, October 18, 2014