When getting a divorce or separating from a co-parent, many fathers worry they will face obstacles in maintaining a close relationship with their children. Although co-parenting is challenging, the law does not prevent you from being an active and involved parent.

When you and your co-parent decide to live separately, consult a Southbury father’s rights lawyer. Our knowledgeable family attorneys can help you assert your right to maintain your position in your children’s lives.

Best Interests of the Children Control Custody Decisions

Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-56 deals with matters concerning children when their parents live apart. The law does not favor a mother over a father in custody determinations, and judges cannot give preference to a parent based on gender. In fact, the law instructs judges to make custody and time-sharing determinations with the presumption that the active involvement of both parents serves the children best.

The law requires judges to make decisions based on the children’s best interests. Judges must make this determination on a case-by-case basis, considering each child’s unique needs and characteristics at the time the judge is evaluating the matter. Some factors a judge could take into account when making a best interests determination include:

  • Which home provides each child with physical, emotional, and environmental safety
  • Each child’s temperament and specific emotional, physical, and educational needs
  • The relationship between each parent and each child prior to the parents’ separation
  • Each parent’s ability to respond to each child’s specific needs
  • Each parent’s preferences
  • Each child’s preferences and their reason for stating that preference

Judges can consider any factor they deem relevant, including either parent’s manipulative behavior or attempts to coerce the children into stating a preference for that parent.

There is a presumption in the law that joint custody serves the children’s best interests in most cases. Joint custody does not necessarily mean the parents split time with the children 50/50, but that the parents divide the time with the children as equally as circumstances allow and share decision-making responsibility. A Southbury father’s rights attorney can advise a father about how to maximize their time with the children.

Negotiating a Parenting Plan that Protects a Father’s Rights

Co-parents who decide to live separately must submit a parenting plan to a court for approval. The parenting plan should:

  • Establish child support obligations
  • Assign authority to make decisions for the children (parental responsibility)
  • Describe where the children will live and how much time they will spend with the non-residential parent (parenting time)

When parents cannot agree on a plan, they each submit their preferred plan, and a judge chooses between them or imposes another plan based on their perception of the children’s best interests. When parents disagree, a judge might appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to get to know the family and make a recommendation. The judge typically gives substantial weight to the GAL’s opinion.

Fathers can retain more control over the process and assert their rights to significant time with the children by cooperating in developing a parenting plan with their co-parent. Judges encourage parents to create their own plan, and the ability to work together and compromise for the children’s sake reflects well on both parents. Southbury couples who have trouble communicating could work with a mediator or negotiate through their attorneys.

When Violence, Abuse, or Unfitness Is an Issue

Although the law presumes significant contact with both parents benefits children, it allows a judge to award sole physical custody and decision-making responsibility to only one parent if the circumstances warrant. A request for sole custody is often accompanied by allegations of domestic violence, coercive control, child abuse, substance misuse, or untreated mental health issues that render a parent unfit.

Making such allegations in court in hopes of influencing custody determinations requires proof. Courts are aware that parents sometimes make unjustified accusations out of bitterness or an intent to punish a former partner by denying them access to the children. Parents who make false accusations rarely obtain the result they desire; in many cases, a court might award the other parent more favorable custody rights.

Even when a parent succeeds in denying a parent joint custody, courts preserve the parent’s right to visitation, although sometimes visits must be supervised until the parent demonstrates they can provide a safe environment. A dedicated Southbury lawyer can help a father pursue or defend a request for sole custody.

Work With a Southbury Attorney to Preserve Your Right to Be an Active Father

Your role as a parent is meaningful and important. Do not let a separation from your co-parent interfere with your relationships with your children.

A Southbury father’s rights lawyer understands your concerns and can offer insightful advice and strong advocacy to preserve your role in your children’s lives. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Connecticut Family Lawyer | CT Family Law | Dolan Family Attorneys N/a
220 Main Street Suite I Southbury CT 06488 (203) 806-9254