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A child's preference in a custody matter

Connecticut parents who are going through a separation or divorce may be surprised to learn that their child is voicing a desire to live with one parent over the other. Custody can be a difficult and emotional aspect of a case, and a judge will take into consideration any preferences the child may have, but the best interests of the child will always take precedence over all else.

Age is one factor of many that are evaluated when determining what the child's best interests are, but it has no advantages in solidifying the child's preferred living arrangements since the state does not recognize a certain age as having more influence in the decision of custody. A younger child may not fully understand the implications of their request, and an older child may not be aware of each parent's situation and ability to provide support.

Unless otherwise indicated, the court will assume that joint legal custody is in the child's best interest. During a custody dispute, a judge will hear testimony, review evidence and may order investigations of each parent's home and lifestyle. If a child has expressed a preference to live with a particular parent, the judge will take this into account while reviewing all other elements of home life, including each parent's ability to provide financial and emotional support and stability for the child.

If a child is communicating their desire to live with the other parent after custody has already been established, a consultation with an attorney may be beneficial in addressing concerns and answering questions. Modification of custody is not unheard of, and if a child's needs are changing and the other parent may provide the healthier and more stable environment for the child, a judge may take these into account.

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