The underlying driver of how courts award the custody of children in Connecticut is the best interest of the child. Courts consider a variety of factors when making this decision.
How do courts determine what the best interests of the child are?
What does best interest mean?
Connecticut law does not specifically define what the meaning of the best interest of the child is. This allows judges the discretion to make custody decisions based on the circumstances of each case.
Which factors does the court consider?
The law addresses 16 specific factors that the court may choose to consider when making a custody determination. It is up to each judge to decide which factors are important to each case and the law does not require the judge to weigh any one factor more heavily than the others.
Factors mentioned in the law include:
- Child’s developmental needs
- Wishes of the child and parents
- Cultural background
- History of domestic or other violence
- Parents’ ability to meet child’s needs
- Mental and physical health of parents and children
The law encourages judges to choose joint custody except in cases where there is a clear reason that one parent having custody is not in the best interest of the child. The law also instructs judges to consider the rights and responsibilities of both parents.
Connecticut law favors joint custody arrangements. If you believe your spouse should not have custody of your child, you must prove to the court that a joint custody arrangement is not in your child’s best interests. While the court may consider your child’s wishes, a desire to only live with one parent or the other will not be sufficient to obtain a sole custody order in most cases.