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Connecticut parents pleading for child custody change

Parents and grandparents joined together in Hartford at the capitol pleading for a change during a hearing. They told lawmakers that the current child custody system is not working and is letting down the children.

The parents and grandparents were contesting the cases that are considered "high conflict" child custody cases. In these situations, a judge appoints a child advocate. A central reason that the parents filed the hearing was because they were frustrated with the court-appointed advocates for children, referred to as a guardian ad litem. They said that more supervision is needed. For example, one witness said that if there is a complaint against one of these guardians, the complaint will be heard by the judge. However, most of the time, the guardian will not be reprimanded or removed from the case.

Parents said that the system is too slow and too expensive. One witness at the hearing said that her brother's divorce cost more than $1 million. In another case, a grandmother said that both sets of grandparents helped to pay fees in a child custody case over an almost eight-year period. She said that she had paid approximately $350,000 in fees in the case, which included more than $40,000 for the GAL. The co-chairs of the task force are GALs, but they say that they are responsive to modifications. The task force has the responsibility of making recommendations to the General Assembly within a few weeks about how the system can be improved.

If parents are no longer together, they may become involved in a child custody dispute, where one or both parents may decide to file for custody. A family law lawyer may be able to assist in the process by helping the parents come to a mutual decision or advocating for one parent in court.

Source: WTNH, "Hearing for a change in custody cases", Mark Davis, January 09, 2014

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