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Understanding child custody laws

As countless Connecticut residents going through divorce are aware, the process can present seemingly endless obstacles. This is especially true for ex-spouses with children. While a child's best interest is generally top priority in child custody arrangements, the details of these laws can vary from state to state.

Untangling the fine print of child custody laws is often a challenge in itself. Family resource LiveAbout breaks down Connecticut's child custody laws in an accessible way, first noting that the state defines joint custody as a process that allows both parents to make important decisions. These decisions primarily involve the general welfare of the child, and equal time split between each parent. The state defines "legal custody" as decision-making rights, and uses the term "physical custody" to refer to the amount of time a child spends at each parent's home. Like most states, Connecticut courts usually consider the following when determining child custody:

  • The child's needs
  • The parents' preferences
  • The child's relationship with each parent
  • History of domestic violence
  • History of abuse  

Courts also look into parents' abilities to understand the needs of the child, and the mental and physical health of all parties involved. There are other factors that courts generally consider, but LiveAbout stresses that a child's wellbeing remains at the center of concern.

Those going through a child custody process understand that it can be tedious, no matter the situation. VeryWell Family recognizes this stress, adding that some laws treat mothers and fathers differently when it comes to joint custody -- or any other type of child custody arrangement. Even though the platform should remain fair, VeryWell points out that mothers still tend to become the custodial parents, with non-custodial fathers commonly paying child support. Why the imbalance? VeryWell points out that some fathers experience different arrangements, depending on their marital status. For instance, single fathers may not be asked to pay child support until the mother receives public assistance. The details of this process may be overwhelming, but the overall goal is to maintain a sense of family, despite the difficulty of this life chapter. 

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