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Fairfield County Child Custody Lawyer

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.

Best Interests of the Child

For families in Greenwich, Westport, and Fairfield County Connecticut, a child custody lawyer could help one parent 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:

  • The child’s temperament and developmental needs;
  • The capacity and disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
  • Any relevant and material information obtained from the child;
  • The past and current relationship and interaction of the child and each of the parents;
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage the relationship of the child and the other parent as is appropriate under the circumstances;
  • The wishes of the child’s parents;
  • The wishes of the child – if age appropriate;
  • The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the child’s life;
  • Whether any domestic violence has occurred among the parties;
  • Whether one or both parents have engaged in manipulative or coercive behavior with respect to involving the child in their dispute;
  • The stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences;
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.

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 parents, and ultimately, is in the best interests of the child(ren).

Child Custody Options

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. religious, educational, medical). A Fairfield County child custody attorney could explain the different forms of custody and advise which form might work best in specific cases.

Benefits of Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody cases are complex, and emotions often run high during a divorce or separation. It is in a parent’s best interest to have legal counsel during this time. A Fairfield County child custody lawyer will help a parent best position themselves to win the level of custody they believe is in their child’s best interests.

Child custody lawyers help parents with all the following:

  • Understand the Law: A qualified child custody lawyer will explain the relevant statutes to the parent in clear terms that the parent can easily understand.
  • Review the Options: Most child custody cases can be decided in several ways. The attorney will help the parent understand the potential options on the table and forecast how a case is likely to be decided, given all the factors in play.
  • Strengthen Their Case: A child custody lawyer can review the parent’s conduct (as well as that of the other parent) and inform their client of actions they can take to reach the best possible outcome. For instance, a child custody lawyer can help their client document evidence of their or the other parent’s fitness that can be presented to the court.
  • Act According to the Law: Any failure to comply with the court orders or interference with the child custody process, real or perceived, will not be viewed favorably by the court. A child custody lawyer will help their client understand how to comport themselves to remain on the right side of the court and the law.
  • Level the Playing Field: If one parent has retained a child custody lawyer, the other parent should also seek legal advice. This can help ensure that both parties get a fair hearing and that all factors that should influence child custody are fully presented to the court.

Call a Fairfield County Child Custody Attorney Today

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. Our firm proudly serves parents in Greenwich, CT; Westport, CT; New Canaan, CT; Fairfield, CT; Stamford, CT; and all of Fairfield County.