Providing children with a safe and happy environment is a common goal amongst parents. Supporting that environment and preserving the children’s relationships with both parents is sometimes challenging when parents live apart.
The state presumes both parents can support their children’s best interests, and custody arrangements splitting physical custody and legal decision-making between parents are the norm. Children might spend several days a week with each parent or live with each parent for alternating weeks. Other agreements may depend on the children’s needs and the parents’ circumstances.
Relationships with children are often complex, even in intact families, and custody-related issues often create disputes between parents. Even when parents agree about most things, they should be aware of common custody issues in Connecticut. A seasoned child custody attorney can help a parent navigate any problems in their parenting plan.
An unmarried father must legally acknowledge paternity to gain custody rights in Connecticut. Both parents can sign a legal Acknowledgment of Paternity form in the hospital when the baby is born, which puts the father’s name on the baby’s birth certificate. Doing so makes the man a child’s legal parent with the full rights and obligations of parenthood. Parents also can sign the Acknowledgment later, but in that case, it might take longer for a father’s name to appear on a birth certificate.
If a father is unwilling or unavailable to sign an acknowledgment of paternity, a mother or a state social services agency could petition a court to order a DNA test. If the test confirms the man is the father, he must pay child support and may receive parental rights to visitation or even custody. However, if he does not have a relationship with the child, he must prove that allowing contact with the child serves the child’s best interests. If paternity leads to a custody dispute, a lawyer in Connecticut can help address and resolve the underlying issues.
Parents commonly use child support as leverage in custody or visitation matters in Connecticut. For example, a parent might refuse to allow the other parent to see the child unless they pay child support arrears, or a parent could refuse to pay unless they get more time with the child.
Either action can result in a violation of a court order and a disservice to the child. Children have a right to their parents’ financial support. A judge could interpret tying child support to visitation as an action contrary to the child’s best interest. A legal representative can help a parent take legal action against a co-parent who links child support to visitation rights.
Co-parents who live separately usually have parenting plans that govern where the child lives, how much time they spend with each parent, and how the parents will share decision-making responsibilities. Once a judge reviews and approves a parenting plan, it has the force of a court order.
Sometimes a parent wants to move away with the children, depriving a co-parent of the opportunity to spend time with them. According to Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56d, a move that impacts the parenting plan must have court approval. Even if a parent who is not moving agrees to let the child move with the co-parent, the parenting plan needs to be formally modified through a court order to safeguard against any future contempt actions.
The law makes a parent’s ability to support and encourage a meaningful relationship with the other parent a factor in the child’s best interest. Tragically, a parent’s bitterness about a divorce or separation could lead them to try to damage a child’s relationship with a co-parent.
A parent who criticizes or demeans a co-parent in front of a child could be violating their parenting plan and acting against the child’s best interests. A Connecticut lawyer can help a parent facing this type of custody issue take action to prevent a co-parent’s resentment from affecting a relationship with their children.
Raising children is hard enough without co-parenting with someone you might not get along with. However, the law and the children’s well-being demand you to try.
If developing a parenting plan with your co-parent is difficult or if the plan you have is not working, consult a legal representative at our firm. We are accustomed to resolving common custody issues in Connecticut in a way that serves both parents and the children. Discuss your situation with one of our legal professionals today. Call now to learn more.