For parents going through a divorce, there is often a lot of anxiety about child custody. During this period of family change, it can feel as though those decisions are out of your hands. In establishing a child custody plan, the courts say they are looking out for the “best interest” of your child – but what does that actually mean?

Here is an explanation.

The court takes various factors into account

When determining what might be in the best interest of a child as part of a divorce proceeding, Connecticut courts look to the factors laid out in state law. This can include:

  • Whether each parent is able to understand and meet the temperament and developmental needs of the child
  • The relationship the child has with each parent, as well as other immediate family members
  • Whether a parent will still support and encourage a connection between the child and the other parent
  • Any manipulative or coercive behavior by one parent during the custody dispute
  • The stability of the child’s current living situation
  • The mental and physical health of all involved
  • Previous abuse or domestic violence
  • The child’s cultural background

It’s important to note the courts will also take each parent’s preference – and potentially the child’s – into account. However, a judge has the discretion to go against those exact wishes if they believe it will be better for the child.

What outcomes might I expect?

The courts will be looking at both physical custody – where the child lives on a day-to-day basis – as well as legal custody – the right for a parent to make major decisions about the child’s life. They might award sole or joint custody, depending on the circumstances.

Nobody wants to see their relationship with their child harmed, which is why this process can feel so scary. While you do have the opportunity to state your case, it ultimately is not up to you. Whatever happens, making the most of the time you do get with the kids can be crucial. At the end of the day, those positive experiences are what they will remember long into the future.