divorce and family law west hartford ct

THE FAMILY LAWYER: YOUR CHILD CUSTODY QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Obviously one of the major issues facing divorcing couples is the custody of their children. This is understandably emotional. With the right plans in place, child custody arrangements can actually work quite well for both parties and their children. Here are some things to think about concerning child custody.

LEGAL VS. PHYSICAL CUSTODY

Legal Custody means a parent’s right to make major life decisions, including educational, medical, and religious decisions. Joint legal custody is presumed in Connecticut, meaning that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities when decisions are made. Communication between the parents is crucial to effective decision making and there should be a system or process in place for resolving disputes that arise.

Physical Custody, or visitation, concerns where the child will live and the amount of time spent with each parent. In determining a child’s residence, the concept of “primary residence” describes a child’s legal residence for purposes of school and other administrative reasons (doctors, legal documents, etc). Visitation plans should include a parenting schedule that provides for regular contact with each parent and clearly defines dates, times, transfer locations, and other details. Birthdays, holidays, vacations, and unexpected events should also be taken into consideration.

HOW CUSTODY IS DETERMINED

The court will consider a number of factors when making custody decisions. Determining the best interest of the child is the standard. Some of the main factors used by the court are the needs (medical, social, educational, etc.) of a minor child, a parent’s ability to provide for those needs, each parent’s willingness to facilitate a relationship between the minor child and other parent, and the child’s history in terms of residence, lifestyle, and schedule. The court is not limited to these and will also consider other factors on a case by case basis.

WHAT IS A PARENTING PLAN?

A parenting plan is a legal document that addresses child custody and delineates each parent’s rights and responsibilities concerning legal custody, primary residence, physical custody and visitation, etc. Often child support, communication, and dispute resolution are also addressed in a comprehensive parenting plan depending on the specific circumstances of each case.

UNMARRIED COUPLES AND DIVORCE

If you have never married, should you have a custody order or parenting plan in place? YES. In short, this helps prevent future disputes. When parents are not married, the same best interests of the child are considered. A parenting plan is a great way to document each parent’s rights and responsibilities and to avoid unnecessary conflict that may exist between parents.

HIRING A CUSTODY LAWYER

Should I hire a custody lawyer? YES. If you and your spouse are getting divorced, or if a child is born to unmarried parents, there may be a dispute over custody. Even if there is no dispute, it’s in the best interest of the child (and YOU) to put a legal document in place that will prevent future disputes. The court will always rule in the best interest of the child, but who better to make that determination than the parents with the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.

FAMILY RELATIONS INVOLVEMENT

Family Relations mediates disagreements and negotiates agreements during custody, visitation, and divorce cases. A family relations counselor may be called in, at the request of a judge, to interview family members and evaluate how to move forward. They are typically involved when parties cannot come to an agreement through the court process.

TOP 5 DIVORCE CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY LAWYER - A blog by Attorney David Post of POST LAW - DIVORCE & FAMILY. We cover a wide range of topics on divorce and family law, real life issues, and offer relatable advice about raising a family. We also love UConn basketball and The Patriots!

It always feels like the first few days of the New Year consist of catching up after the chaos of the holidays. We spent that first week of January reflecting on last year and setting our own Personal, Professional, and Financial goals for 2019. During this time, we were struck by how many people were using the word GOALS instead of RESOLUTIONS as they focused on what they wanted in 2019. Maybe it’s a collective mind-shift, or this year’s buzz word, but we like it! There’s something about setting GOALS and working toward them one step at a time that sounds more practical and sustainable than the same old RESOLUTIONS that most people quit by February.

In working through the process of GOAL setting, we realized that our initial meeting with clients is very similar. You see, when someone begins the process of divorce, or goes through any steps of a family law case, it is critical to determine where that client wants to be and what THEY want. If we know where they want to be and what they want to achieve, we can analyze their case more effectively, help them make the right decisions, and put a solid legal plan in place.

Here are the TOP 5 DIVORCE CONSIDERATIONS that we address with our clients during our initial consultation.

  1. HOUSING: Where will you live and how will you pay for it? If you have children, will they be affected by these changes? Do mortgages need to be refinanced? Will extra cash be needed for down payments, and first/last months rent?

  2. ASSETS/DEBTS: Take inventory of what you have. Consider whether any of your assets/debts or those of your spouse are pre-marital, which may allow you to keep those assets from being divided or prevent you from taking on the pre-marital debt of your spouse.

  3. CHILDREN: What’s in their best interest? How will you and your spouse communicate and make decisions? What will happen if you are unable to reach an agreement about educational, medical, or religious concerns? Finding a parenting plan that works for everyone and is good for your child is paramount.

  4. BUDGET/FINANCIAL PLANNING: What does your financial future look like? People often have trouble moving past the present problems they face, but it’s important to focus on the future as soon as possible. Putting a plan in place to help you reach your financial goals should happen ASAP.

  5. SELF CARE: How will you maintain your physical and mental health? What kind of support from family, friends, or even professionals will be needed? Consider therapy for your children as they experience change and feelings of uncertainty that are beyond their control.

Attorney David A. Post is the owner of Post Law - Divorce & Family. He is dedicated to helping families move past the conflict and toward a healthier future.