Westport Child Custody Lawyer
Our Westport child custody lawyers have a firm understanding of the types of child custody and parenting plans that benefit children and parents alike. Parenting plans must be fair, flexible, and in the best interest of the minor child(ren). With many parents working long hours, commuting significant distances to and from work, and traveling for business, the notion of a “typical workday” is largely a thing of the past. Our Westport Child Custody Lawyers offer creative solutions to fit the needs of each client and family. The term “child custody” can be broken down into two separate definitions, legal custody, and physical custody. Legal custody addresses which parent has the right to make major decisions concerning the child(ren). Major decisions include those relating to a child’s education, health/medical, and religion. Based upon our experiences as Westport child custody lawyers we estimate that over 95% of Connecticut parents have joint legal custody. It is certainly the exception for a parent to have sole legal custody.
Types of Child Custody: Legal and Physical Custody
Physical custody addresses the schedule of which parent has time with the minor child on a given day. A parent who is with a child one day a week has physical custody of that child on that day. At times, language is written into a divorce agreement establishing a child’s residence for school purposes.
If the parents cannot agree on joint legal custody the process is called a contested custody case. This will mean that third parties will become an integral part of the case. For example, the court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for the minor child(ren) to investigate and make a recommendation as to the best interest of the child(ren) or an Attorney for the Minor Child (AMC) may be appointed to represent the child(ren). After hearing all the relevant information in such a case a court will decide custody based on the “best interest of the child(ren)”. The “best interest” factors for the court to consider are as follows, but the court is not required to assign any weight to any of the factors that it considers:
- The temperament and developmental needs of the child;
- The capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
- Any relevant and material information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child;
- The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody;
- The past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the best interests of the child;
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders;
- Any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents to involve the child in the parents’ dispute;
- The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
- The length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity in such environment provided the court may consider favorably a parent who voluntarily leaves the child’s family home pendente lite to alleviate stress in the household;
- The stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences, or both;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or another party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child;
- The child’s cultural background;
- The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or the child;
- Whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected, as defined respectively in section 46b-120; and
- Whether the party satisfactorily completed participation in a parenting education program established per section 46b-69b.
Litigation and Child Custody: When Litigation Becomes Necessary
Our Westport child custody attorneys encourage parents to collaborate on issues of child custody. However, in some situations, litigation may be necessary. Our Westport child custody lawyers will vigorously pursue the custody and parenting schedule that works for our client and their children. When a successful agreement is reached, children can emerge from the process with two parents still in their lives, and the difficult feelings associated with divorce should then be mitigated.
During the pendency of the divorce or at any time after it has occurred, either parent may wish to relocate with the minor children. These cases can be highly charged and emotional. Our Westport child custody lawyers have tenaciously and successfully represented individuals on both sides of this issue.
In addition to cases involving initial determinations of child custody, our Westport child custody lawyers handle post-judgment enforcement (contempt) and modification of custody and parenting plans. Please contact Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC at 203-222-4949.