Divorce is difficult, especially if minor children are involved. When two parents decide to end their marriage and live apart, determining custody is can be a contentious issue. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding custody and/or parenting schedules on their own, a judge will ultimately have to intervene and decide the matter for them.
Navigating a child custody/parenting dispute can be draining and confusing, but a Fairfield County child custody lawyer could help you explore all your legal options and help you find the best course forward for your family. A family law attorney could work with you, the other parent, and the courts to reach a child custody arrangement that best serves the welfare of your child.
For families in Fairfield County Connecticut, a child custody lawyer could help a mother or father work out a child custody agreement with the other parent in the event of divorce or separation. While parents are always able to create a child custody solution on their own, even then the agreement must be approved by the court to ensure it is in the child’s best interest.
The term “best interests of the child” can be found throughout Connecticut family law. Regarding custody and parenting schedule determinations, a family court must consider a wide variety of factors when either approving, making, or modifying a child custody arrangement to ensure that it is in the child’s best interests. The statutory factors listed in Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-56(c) include, but are not limited to, the following:
Although each child custody case is different, state law generally makes an initial assumption that a child is best served by having regular continuing contact with both parents. The factors listed above are designed to guide a family law court structure a child custody arrangement that best promotes the child’s health and safety, furthers their development needs, takes into account the parenting abilities of both the mother and father and, ultimately, is in the best interests of the child(ren).
An experienced child custody lawyer in Fairfield County could explain the different custody options that are available to divorced or separated parents in Connecticut.
Legal & Physical Custody
Child custody in Fairfield County is divided into legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions affecting the child’s welfare while physical custody refers to where the child will live and where they will spend their time. Generally speaking, joint legal and physical custody is the most common arrangement as it provides both parents the opportunity to live with the child and have a meaningful say in the child’s upbringing.
Sole Legal and/or Physical Custody
If a court finds, after applying the statutory factors mentioned above that it is not in the best interests of the child for both parents to have regular physical parenting time with a child and/or that both parents should not be equal decision makers for the child, then it has the discretion to order a sole custody arrangement. Sole physical custody means that the child lives with one parent full-time with the other parent typically having some degree of appropriate visitation rights. Sole Legal Custody means that one parent is vested with the power to make final decisions as to important matters pertaining to the child (e.g. religion, education, medical). A Fairfield County child custody attorney could explain the different forms of custody and advise which form might work best in specific cases.
If you are a divorcing parent, determining child custody is something you will have to do, however difficult it may be. Fortunately, help is available from a Fairfield child custody lawyer. Contact a local family law attorney today to learn more about your legal options and start building the future your children need.