Connecticut Child Support Lawyers – Kocian Law Group
Custody of children and support of children is a very important and often misunderstood concept by those new to divorce. Understanding custody is key for making decisions that are in the best interests of the children.
The issue of custody is divided into two areas, “physical” custody and “legal” custody. Physical custody determines where the child resides, while legal custody pertains to which parent makes all major decisions for a child. These include decisions about medical issues, religious issues, and schooling.
Parents must also decide whether they will share each type of custody jointly or assign each type to only one person individually. “Joint” custody means both parents make these decisions together. If the child spends the majority of his or her time with one parent, that parent may be said to have “primary physical custody,” while the other has “parenting time” or “visitation” with the child. Situations in which the child lives with each parent about half the time, are called “shared” physical custody situations.
Custody and the Best Interests of the Child
The State of Connecticut generally makes rulings on custody by deciding what is in “the best interests of the child”. Because each family’s situation is different, the factors that are included in determining the “best interests of the child” differ slightly in each situation. However, they include information on each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs, which parent the child has spent the most time with to date, the child’s particular physical and mental health status, and other facts that relate directly to the best sources of care for the child.
Additionally, Connecticut law provides that the Court may consider the child’s preferences, if the child is old enough to form a reasoned preference and is capable of expressing it. The child’s preference is just one factor that may be considered, and like any one factor, they are not binding on the Court.
Also, it is recommended that children’s thoughts on custody be obtained with extreme care, as the very nature of these discussions can cause emotional disturbances to a child. This is particularly true when a divorce is contentious or a child does not fully understand the nature of the dispute between his or her parents. Generally speaking, trained professionals who are equipped, by education and experience, to discern the needed information without causing emotional trauma to the child should be trusted with discussing the child’s preferences with him or her.
Parenting Education Program
Connecticut also mandates that parents participate in a “parenting education program.” Education of parents, in a divorce, involves attendance of approved programs of instruction by providers approved by the Court system. State approved brochures and forms, are available in the Clerk’s office of the Superior Court and are easily accessible online at the State of Connecticut Judicial website http://www.jud.ct.gov/
If you’re facing custody issues during divorce, don’t hesitate to contact the Kocian Law Group. We can help you navigate difficult issues in the best interests of yourself and your children.