Connecticut law does not provide a straightforward definition of what is considered to be in a child’s best interest. Instead, the court will consider and weigh a number of statutory factors in deciding what custody arrangement meets the standard. Whether parents are in agreement or at odds as to what the custody arrangement should be, the court will ultimately need to sign off on the order and make a finding that the best interests of the child standard has been met.
Determining the best interest of a child in Guilford is the cornerstone of every custody case. A court wants to ensure whatever arrangement the parents put in place is best suited for the children and that the children will thrive under that agreement. Contact a knowledgeable child custody attorney to help you create the best plan for your child.
In the case of a custody dispute, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) or a Family Relations Officer (FRO) to prepare a recommendation as to what custody arrangement would meet the child’s best interests. As part of their investigation, the GAL or FRO will interview the minor child, parents, and any relevant third-party sources, including but not limited to the child’s teachers, doctors, therapists.
The child’s desires will carry some weight when they are younger, but it usually does not have as much influence until they are teenagers, and even then, the investigator will weigh the child’s maturity and judge the child’s reasoning against the circumstances. The GAL and FRO will consider whether the child is being coached or unduly influenced by one parent, or otherwise motivated by reasons not in their best interests, for example, the knowledge they will have less supervision with one parent over the other to do as they please. The court presumes it is in the child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. The court rarely cuts off contact between a child and one parent unless such contact would be harmful to the child. When a child does not want to spend time with a parent, the GAL or FRO will provide the court their understanding as to the underlying causes before making a ruling.
A Guilford child’s best interest can change as they get older or as their relationship improves or worsens with one of their parents. A parent would need to file a motion to modify a custody agreement with the court if the current plan is no longer in the child’s best interest on account of a change in circumstances.
When parents cannot agree on what is in the child’s best interest, they must prepare to present their case to the judge during an evidentiary hearing. Using witnesses and evidence, each parent will argue that the statutory factors favor their proposed custody plan as better meeting the child’s best interest.
Almost every factor carries some form of relevance as to what is in the child’s best interest. The court will closely review both parties’ backgrounds, their involvement with the child, their current living arrangements, their current employment, and why the parent believes the schedule they are proposing is best suited for the child.
The court ensures each parent has a home that is safe for the child. If a parent seeks to have overnights with the child, the court wants to verify the child has separate sleeping quarters and their own space. The court will also review who is living with each parent and interacting with the child regularly. Determining the best option for a child in Guilford can be complicated. A seasoned lawyer can help you navigate a custody hearing.
The court reviews several factors when determining the best interest of a child in Guilford. Understanding how a court will view certain evidence in a custody trial is crucial to securing an agreement that is best for you and your children. Once you enter a custody order, you have an obligation to follow it. Changing an agreement that has already become a court order is often difficult. Reach out to a lawyer today to help you through your custody negotiations.