When relationships come to an end, the physical separation of two caring parents often becomes unavoidable. In these emotionally taxing situations, parents often realize separation is best for the children but can agree on little else, including where the children should live. If you are experiencing a child custody dispute, the services of a Windsor child custody lawyer can prove invaluable.
We believe you deserve to have a voice in all matters concerning your children. Our job is to make sure your voice is heard and respected by all parties involved in your child custody proceedings. We will work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome in your child custody case that truly achieves the best interests of your children. Contact us today to consult with an expert in divorce law and child custody proceedings.
The Legal Process of Determining Custody Arrangements
Determining a custody arrangement that suits you and your ex-partner and fulfills the needs of your child is certainly possible with mediation—many divorcing couples utilize mediation to discuss potential options and create a custody agreement. While the court will need to approve the arrangement before it becomes final, you and your ex-partner have much more freedom to do so during negotiation or mediation.
However, if you and your ex-partner cannot come to a custody agreement yourselves, the court will determine an arrangement for a custody hearing. Your Windsor child support attorney will help you present your case, but a judge will determine the outcome of the hearing in family court. To determine custody arrangements, family court will consider several factors, including:
- The wishes of the child, if they are old enough to express a preference (often 12 or older, though Connecticut establishes no particular age at which it will consider a child’s wishes)
- The relationship of the child with each parent
- The needs of the child, including their schooling and medical care
- The health of the child, including any special needs they may have
- Any history of physical or emotional abuse between either parent and the child
- The current living situation of the child
- Any history of alcohol or drug abuse by either parent
- How much time each party has available to care for the child
The court will consider several different potential custody arrangements. The court could award joint physical and legal custody, sole physical custody to one parent with shared legal custody by both parents, sole physical and legal custody, or shared parenting (in which both parents have an equal role in raising the child).
How Are Visitation Arrangements Finalized?
When the court makes a custody decision, either by mutual agreement or after a hearing, it will also determine visitation arrangements. Visitation is usually awarded to a parent when the other has sole physical custody—the child does not typically live with a parent who only has visitation rights. These factors influence visitation decisions:
- The court will always consider the best interests of the child when making a visitation schedule, including whether the child will suffer harm or emotional distress if visitation is granted.
- The court will consider any restraining orders in place or whether there has been any history of violence between the parents.
- If the noncustodial parent lives a significant distance from the other, the court may order that the child spends extended periods of time with each parent instead of regular visitation.
- If one parent is not able to care for the child due to work or other commitments, the court may order that the child spends time with a third party, such as a grandparent or other relative.
To fully understand visitation options and to get help creating a visitation schedule that works for your family, you should speak with a Windsor child custody lawyer. The attorneys at CT Divorce Mediation Centers have helped countless parents with their child custody and visitation questions and can answer yours, as well.
How Do you Change a Child Custody Arrangement in the Future?
To change a custody arrangement after a court order is in place, there must be a material change in circumstances. This could mean a change in finances, a change in the parent’s work schedules, or a change in the child’s needs. Even if you and your ex-partner agree that a change is necessary, you must first file a modification petition with the Connecticut family court.
However, it is important to note that the current arrangement must have been in place for at least two years (except in cases where the child’s safety or well-being is in jeopardy). If you would like to file for a change in custody, you should speak with a Windsor child custody lawyer. The lawyers at CT Divorce Mediation Centers can help you file the appropriate motions and present them to family court for approval.
How to Proceed if Someone Violates a Child Custody Order
If a parent violates the terms of their child custody order by refusing to return the child after visitation or refusing to allow the child to see the noncustodial parent, they can be held in contempt of court. The penalties for refusing to abide by a court order can be severe and can include changes to the custody agreement or loss of custody or visitation rights.
If you believe your child’s other parent has violated a child custody order, you must file a motion and appear before a judge, where you will have the chance to explain your reasons for believing that they are in contempt of court. The lawyers at CT Divorce Mediation Centers can help you file this motion and represent you in court. After the proceedings take place, the judge will decide whether the parent in violation is held in contempt and what, if any, punishments are handed down.
Why You Need a Child Custody Lawyer
Without legal representation, you will find yourself at a significant disadvantage when it comes to securing a fair custody agreement that meets your and your child’s needs. A Windsor child custody lawyer will guide you through every step of the legal process and will ensure that your rights as a parent are protected. If you are considering filing for custody or need help with an existing custody arrangement, please contact a Windsor child custody lawyer at CT Divorce Mediation Centers. We can answer your questions and help you begin resolving your custody or visitation dispute.