Co-parents who live separately must abide by a parenting plan, which outlines each parent’s responsibilities to the children and each other. Parenting plans typically describe where the children will live and how much time they will spend with the non-residential parent.
Parents may have difficulty establishing a reasonable and workable schedule that allows both parents to maintain close relationships with their children. A Milford visitation lawyer can help parents negotiate an agreement or arrange mediation to resolve the issues in a productive way. The effort is worthwhile because if parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule, a judge will impose one without necessarily appreciating the unique needs of their family.
Several situations may impact visitation rights. If parents are unmarried, a father must establish paternity to gain visitation rights. Grandparents or other third parties can petition for visitation if they can demonstrate they have a parent-like relationship with the child, and the child would be harmed in the absence of continued contact. Parents can work with a family attorney to anticipate these situations and deal with them proactively.
The child’s best interest is the governing principle for all decisions courts make impacting children. The law in Connecticut presumes that if parents can agree to joint legal and physical custody, meaning roughly equal parenting time and equal decision-making authority, it serves a child’s best interests. If the parents agree on a plan for custody and visitation, they must submit it to a judge for approval. The judge must evaluate the plan to determine whether it is in the children’s best interests, considering the following factors:
The court can consider any information it deems relevant to a particular decision. If a court applies the best interest factors to a parenting plan and finds the plan deficient, the court has several options. The judge can throw out the plan and impose a different one. More often, the judge rejects specific aspects of the agreement and explains why they do not serve the children’s best interests. A Milford lawyer can help parents revise the visitation plan to address the judge’s objections.
Many couples have children together but never marry. If parents sign an Acknowledgment of Parentage naming the father, the child has two legal parents. Otherwise, the mother is the only legal parent and the only person with a right to child custody. A father who has not acknowledged paternity has no right to visitation with the child. Parents can sign an acknowledgment of parentage at any time. However, if a mother refuses to sign or a father disputes the child is theirs, a custody attorney in Milford can represent a mother or father in a paternity action.
If the parents acknowledge a father’s paternity or a court-ordered DNA test proves it, the father must pay child support and has the right to seek custody and visitation. A court will keep the best interests of the child foremost when deciding whether to grant parenting time to a father who has not been in the child’s life.
Children often develop close and meaningful relationships with adults who are not their parents. Grandparents, stepparents, and same-sex second parents might perform some parental duties and form close bonds with children with whom they have no biological or adoptive relationship.
Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-59 allows people with significant ties to the children to petition a court for visitation rights. The petitioner must show that their relationship was parent-like and that terminating the relationship would bring harm to the child. If a court grants visitation, it only allows the petitioner to continue to visit with the child and does not confer any parental rights.
Parents can often anticipate whether a grandparent, former partner, or another third party might want visitation rights. They can decide between themselves how much access the third party will have to the child, where the visits will happen, and establish ground rules. A Milford lawyer can help parties incorporate these visitation agreements into the parenting plan. Doing so allows parents to maintain control of the situation rather than leaving it to a court to decide.
Carving out space in your child’s life for visitation with each parent and important third parties is challenging. Parents must consider their children’s best interests regarding how much time they spend with the co-parent and who else gets to preserve their relationships with the child. Seek help and advice from a Milford visitation lawyer. Call today to discuss your visitation concerns with a seasoned professional.