New Haven Child Custody Lawyer
Divorce can be extremely traumatic for children. Aside from confusion about why their parents are not living in the same house anymore, feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment can leave a lasting imprint, especially when seeming to have to choose between parents.
In Connecticut family law courts, the best interests of the children are a primary consideration. Therefore, parents owe it to themselves to work with a New Haven family law attorney who can help them advocate for their child and work toward child custody or visitation arrangements that are truly in their child’s best interests. Since there is no set standard or exact science which determines child custody, it is important to have an attorney help you through the legal process for the best possible outcome for your child.
Physical and Legal
As with many other aspects of family law, child custody is not a straightforward issue. There are a number of things in considering custody, including where the child lives, if both parents are involved, if other family members are involved, how the child is doing in school, and how they are doing medically.
In most cases, parents will share physical custody to some degree. Physical custody refers to a child’s primary residence, meaning who the child will reside with more than 50% of the time. In some cases, however, awarding sole physical custody may be more appropriate, with the other parent entitled to supervised visitation.
Legal custody is another crucial component to consider. Legal custody basically means the ability to make decisions that would be called joint legal custody. Joint legal custody is when both people have the right to make decisions concerning the child, and also have legal right to records, such as medical records or school records. This determines the parents’ rights to make important decisions on behalf of their children, like their schooling, their health care, or even their religion.
Types of Cases
Married v. Not Married
In Connecticut, there are two aspects of child custody when there is a divorce. There is the custody case where people are married, and then there is a custody case where people were never married. When people are not married, it will usually be handled in the magistrate court, although it can also be handled in family court.
A custody-only case deals with only the custody, visitation, and child support, and there are a number of factors that go into determining who gets custody. These factors would be the same for the other type of custody case, which is part and parcel to a divorce case where the parties are getting a divorce and there are kids involved.
In terms of what goes into child custody, it is a totality of the circumstances. The circumstances include the age of the child, how they are doing, or if there are any types of aggravating circumstances regarding the custody, such as police involvement, Department of Children and Family involvement, or any kinds of allegations of dues.
Usually, custody is ultimately determined by what is in the best interest of the child.
How a Lawyer Can Help
There are several different parties that are involved in a custody determination and who can have influence on the custody of the child. In some cases, there are potential guardian ad litems, which are attorneys that represent the interest of the child. There are also attorneys for the minor child who would represent the child overall. These are standard relations by the Department of Children and Family.
Some of the interests of the parties may not be aligned, so having an attorney help you navigate all of these different people. By doing so, it works toward the end goal of allowing the parents to ultimately decide where the custody lies with their child, rather than the decision be made a third party that does not know the family.
Avoiding a Custody Battle
The most important thing is, unless all communication has broken down between the parties, the parents should sit down and talk about the case and about what they are going to do. The best situation for a child is if the parents have open lines of communication.
Open communication is what is best for a child, and that is overall what a custody case is all about. The case is not about the parents, and if a volatile custody battle occurs, it will invariably boil over into the child.
Maintaining an understanding is crucial. The parties must maintain an understanding that, at the end of the day, is about doing what is in the best interest of the child.
You can modify custody and visitation arrangements either by mutual consent of the parties, or by motion, at which point you would have a hearing in court. Oftentimes, when there is a big modification in custody, there will be other attorneys involved, such as a guardian ad litem, who will do what is called a family study. Family relations can also do a family study, in which they examine every single part of your life and they will make the recommendation to court about what is in the best interest of the child.
Custody determinations can be modified after there is an agreement. It is very difficult because both people sign on to that, but if there is mutual consent, then it is much easier.
If there is a court order and two people decide to deviate from that court order, though, a side agreement means nothing until there is actually a court order with that modification. You therefore need to go to court to have a true modification.