Among all the issues that must be resolved when a marriage ends, those involving minor children are, without a doubt, the most important. In Connecticut, divorcing couples with minor children are required to establish a parenting plan that protects each child’s best interests and promotes a healthy and lasting relationship between the children and both their parents.
What is the Parenting Plan Established?
In many cases, divorcing parents are able to reach an agreement on the terms and provisions of their parenting plan. However, when that’s impossible, a family court judge may issue an order establishing a parenting plan following a hearing or trial.
What is Covered by a Connecticut Parenting Plan?
A Connecticut parenting plan establishes each parent’s rights and responsibilities concerning the care of their minor children, and will include provisions for physical and legal custody of the child, as well as a parent access schedule. The plan may also cover other miscellaneous matters, such as parental disparagement and notification requirements.
What is Legal Custody?
A parent with legal custody of a minor child is granted the authority to make big-picture decisions, such as those regarding the child’s health, education, and religion.
In a Connecticut divorce, legal custody may be established in one of three ways:
- Joint Legal Custody: Parents make decisions together.
- Final Decision Maker: One parent is authorized to make a final decision following a “Good Faith” Conference.
- Sole Custody: One parent has exclusive authority to make big-picture decisions.
How is a Parental Access Schedule Determined?
A parental access schedule addresses the day-to-day and week-to-week time each parent spends with each child, including holidays and vacations. These schedules are not one-size-fits-all and will take into account a family’s specific situation and also what’s best for the children.
What Else Can a Connecticut Parenting Plan Address?
In addition to legal and physical custody and the parental access schedule, parenting plans can also contain very important miscellaneous provisions. For instance, there’s almost always language prohibiting disparagement by one parent against the other. Others might establish a parent’s right to attend school conferences or extracurricular activities, even if they don’t have parenting time during those activities.
Another important provision covers notification regarding travel so that, should one parent decide to go away with the children, the other parent would always know where they are. Many parenting plans also include a right of first refusal stipulating that if the scheduled parent cannot exercise their time for a certain period, the other parent would have the first right to watch the kids before a childcare provider was engaged.
There may also be provisions regarding parental relocation that establish a specific radius in which a parent could move if they wish to relocate sometime in the future, as well as provisions related to the introduction of the children to a new, significant other.
Can a Parenting Plan Be Modified?
Connecticut parenting plans are always modifiable. Because any parenting plan must always be aligned with the child’s best interest, a plan may be modified whenever it’s shown to no longer meet the child’s best interest.
Our Experienced Connecticut Divorce Attorneys are Here to Help
If you’re attempting to negotiate or modify a parenting plan, having a strong legal advocate on your side is essential.
Our experienced Connecticut Divorce Attorneys will work with you to ensure your parenting plan will protect your child’s best interest and help them maintain a healthy relationship with each parent as they grow.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation.