Parental Rights in Divorce

Parental Rights v. Best Interest of a Child

Child custody law in Connecticut is governed by what is in the best interest of a child.  Therefore, although there are many complicated and confusing aspects to child custody it is important to remember that ultimately, the custody of a child will be determined by what the Court feels is in the best interests of that child. 

Child custody laws are complicated, so it is important to meet only with qualified child custody attorneys when pursuing a child custody agreement.  Child custody lawyers can help to protect parental rights in custody matters you custody of a child and help you navigate the murky waters of child custody and visitation. 

Child Custody – Joint, Physical & Legal Custody

Child custody comes in many different forms.  In Connecticut, the joint child custody is defined as both parents have some type of custody over their child(ren).  The opposite of this would be sole custody, where only one parent has custody of the child.  Joint custody will affect child support  payments.  Also, when discussing custody, it is important to remember that physical and legal custody are two different things.  Physical custody is determined by where the child resides (if joint custody is not obtained, then the child will remain at the home of the parent who has physical custody).  Legal custody is when a parent has the right to make legally binding decisions for the child, such as decisions concerning child custody rights like education, medical treatment, religious practices and the independence that child is afforded.  Since often these types of decisions need to be made quickly or in emergencies, legal custody is typically granted to only one parent (barring the exception of joint custody). 

Termination of Parental Rights and Grandparents Rights

Many custody disputes are the results of a divorce.  Dissolution of marriages or civil unions in which children are present creates a complex arena for parent's rights.  Parent rights are given a lot of weight by the Courts, and termination of parental rights is very unlikely to occur barring extreme circumstances (such as one parents imprisonment, or a case where one of the parents can be demonstrated to be abusive or an addict).  Grandparents rights are not guaranteed.  In order to gain custody of a child, the grandparent must adopt the child (only an option in cases where both parents rights have been terminated), or petition for custody of the child, which is unlikely to be granted if one of the parents is capable of taking care of the child. 

Visitation Rights of Non-Custodial Parent

Visitation rights are only partly determined by child custody laws.  Obviously, if a parent has physical custody of a child, they will not have to petition for visitation rights because they already live with that child.  However, if one of the parents does not live with the child, depending on their custody arrangement, they may have to petition for visitation rights.  Visitation rights law is fairly forgiving, and there are even circumstances in which a parent that is currently incarcerated can maintain the right to see their child, but only an experienced child custody lawyer can offer accurate advice. 

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