If you are the parent of a minor child and live apart from your co-parent, you will need to develop a parenting plan. Ideally, you and your co-parent can negotiate an arrangement that benefits your children and is workable for each of you.
When negotiating a parenting plan, it is critical to understand the forms of child custody in Stamford. Your parenting plan must address physical and legal custody, and include a visitation schedule. Knowing what arrangements courts favor and what the law requires can keep your negotiations on track. If you need help developing your agreement, consult a seasoned custody attorney.
The parent with primary physical custody provides the home where their children live most of the time. Even when a divorce decree or separation agreement awards the parents joint legal custody, a court may designate one parent as the parent with primary physical custody.
According to Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56a, joint physical custody is presumed to be in the children’s best interests if the parents request it. Joint custody means the children spend significant time in the care of each of their parents. Although living situations and work schedules rarely permit an exact 50/50 split, parents in Stamford with this form of custody divide time with the children as evenly as possible.
Parents sometimes request sole physical custody. In some cases, one parent does not have a schedule that permits them to care for the children, or they may not have a safe place to live. The parents might agree it best serves the children to live all the time with one parent. In other cases, one parent might allege the other is not an appropriate caregiver.
A court authorizes the parent with legal custody to make decisions regarding the child’s healthcare, education, religious upbringing, and any other major life decisions. Parents share joint legal custody in many cases, even when one parent has sole or primary physical custody.
When parents share legal custody, they must agree to make significant decisions together. They also must devise a procedure to use when they cannot agree. Many parents designate a third party to help them reach a consensus on parenting issues that divide them. A Stamford attorney can help a couple establish a process for resolving parenting disputes for this form of child custody.
Sometimes a court awards one parent sole legal custody. In almost all cases, the parent without legal custody retains a right to information about decisions regarding the children. They typically can access the children’s medical and education records, may attend doctor’s appointments and parent/teacher meetings, and remain involved.
Connecticut General Statutes 46b-69b requires divorcing parents to take a parenting class as part of the marriage dissolution process. Courts encourage parents to use what they learn in class to work together to develop a parenting plan that reflects their specific circumstances.
Some parents communicate well and are on the same page about what is best for their children. Such parents can create a parenting plan using the state’s template. Other parents disagree about some fundamental issues. These parents could benefit from mediation to develop their parenting plan. If the parents cannot communicate effectively, a legal representative can try to negotiate with the co-parent’s legal representative to reach an agreement.
A court must approve the parenting plan and incorporate it into a court order regarding custody, visitation, and child support. Courts in Stamford review these agreements and consider the forms of child custody that serve the children’s best interests. A judge can reject a plan the parents agreed to if they find it does not favor the children’s best interests.
Deciding how to co-parent children is one of the most challenging tasks parents face when they choose not to live together. Parents must balance providing structure and stability for their children with opportunities for both parents to continue a meaningful relationship with them.
Parents should work with a local attorney to help them evaluate the forms of child custody in Stamford and determine which one is right for their family. Schedule a consultation with a member of our firm today.