When two parents are not together or are getting divorced, you can bet that child custody will be a primary issue to resolve. In some cases, parents may have a good idea of how the custody arrangement should go. For example, maybe they agree that their child should split time between the two parents, or perhaps one parent acknowledges they should not commit to more than minimal visits with their child. The parent may have plans to move away or may not be able to attend to the child’s needs due to work or lifestyle conflicts. In any event, some parents reach an agreement from the start or with minimal negotiation.
On the other hand, some parents will fight over child custody, with one or both parents ready to wage a war to get their way. Custody battles can be contentious, highly personal and sensitive matters, and they often do not set the stage for healthy and cooperative co-parenting of the child. If you foresee a possible custody fight, you should seek the assistance of a skilled Connecticut child custody attorney from the start of your case.
Connecticut law presumes that it is in the child’s best interests to have continuing contact with both parents, so the presumption is in favor of joint custody. However, some parents still have an often out-dated idea that they can fight for sole custody without a valid reason. Some mothers believe that courts will still automatically agree that a child should live primarily with their mother. Some fathers may think the child should not have contact with a mother who is dating someone new. In most cases, these circumstances will not result in sole custody.
Sole custody is only appropriate when it is in the child’s best interests to not have regular (or any) contact with one parent. These situations often involve serious mental health problems, addiction, drug use or immoral behavior in front of the child, abuse of the child, or other serious criminal activity. To get sole custody, a parent must provide enough evidence to the court that the child may suffer physically or emotionally if they spend time with the other parent. This can be a difficult task, and it involves airing very personal information in court. However, it is worth it to protect your child if the situation warrants sole custody. The other parent will likely not agree, leading to a serious battle.
It is generally worth a try to resolve a custody fight out of court. Going to court costs significantly more time, energy, emotional stress, and money, and you lose control over the outcome of the case. To keep your future, and your child’s future, in your own hands and save resources, it is often a good idea to try dispute resolution methods with the guidance of your experienced lawyer. One exception is when the other parent is a threat to your child’s health and safety, and there is little chance they will admit it.
First, your lawyer can engage in negotiations with the other parent’s lawyer. Often, the two can discuss the circumstances of the situation as they relate to Connecticut custody laws, and go back to advise their clients on possible outcomes. Having a skilled negotiator on your side can often help to resolve the custody fight that may be brewing.
Mediation can also be a powerful tool for resolving custody disagreements. Often, a party will not trust the other party’s lawyer, though they may give more weight to the ideas of a neutral third-party mediator. This mediator will listen to what each side wants and will help direct the parties toward compromise and a mutual agreement. At this stage of the case, parents may realize what it truly in the child’s best interest is for them to stop fighting and move forward with an arrangement that works for everyone.
Whether you know you should fight for sole custody due to threats to your child, or the other parent simply refuses to come to any type of reasonable agreement, it may be necessary to take the custody fight into court. When this happens, each parent’s attorney will present their arguments and supporting evidence regarding the custody arrangement they seek. The judge will review the situation and determine what type of custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. This arrangement will become a court order, whether you agree with it or not. There is always a risk in going to trial, so you want a highly skilled litigator representing you.
Custody fights can also arise after a custody order is already in place. Schedules or circumstances may change, and one parent may want to modify the custody arrangement. If the other parent agrees, they need only submit the modified agreement to the court for approval. However, if the other parent does not want to modify the custody arrangement, a battle may ensue. Attorneys may try to use the same methods described above to help reach an out-of-court agreement. If this fails, the court will get to decide whether the modification is warranted and is in the best interests of the child.
It is only natural for a parent to want to keep as close of a relationship with their child as possible. This may seem difficult when sharing custody and only spending half your time with your child. However, Connecticut law and courts favor joint custody for a reason, and compromising to reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement can be better for your child than engaging in a custody fight with the other parent. That being said, there are situations that warrant refusing to give in to protect your child.
When it comes to any type of custody matter, the Law Offices of Piazza, Simmons & Grant, L.L.C., is here to help. Call (203) 348-2465 or contact us online to speak with a Stamford custody lawyer today.