The state of Connecticut law favors a joint custody arrangement. Joint custody in the state refers to legal and physical custody. When a judge does not award joint custody, he must set forth a reason for the decision and state how it is in the best interests of the child. State law allows a number of factors to be weighed in a determination of custody.
Needs of the Child
The temperament and the developmental needs of the child can be taken into consideration. This might include a situation where a mother is breastfeeding a newborn or acts as the primary caretaker for a child unable to attend school.
Parent's Ability to Meet Child's Needs
The capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's needs can include a look at the mental, physical and emotional capabilities of all parties. For example, if the child has diabetes or some other medical condition that requires daily maintenance, the parent must understand the proper course of treatment and make sure the child follows it.
The Child's Wishes
A child can testify regarding personal desires as to which parent she wishes to have custody. State law does not set forth an age where the child's desires are given more weight or when the child can make the decision entirely without input from the court.
Child's Relationship with Each Parent and Other People in the Home
The child's past and present relationship with her parents, siblings or any other family members who would be present in the home where the child would live can be a determining factor. If a child's potential home environment includes a harmful relationship with a sibling or an aunt, the judge can consider these factors as part of a custody ruling.
Parents' Ability to Cooperate
For joint custody to work best for the child, both parents much be able to communicate kindly and often regarding issues concerning their child. The court can look at how the mother and father have treated each other during the divorce process in order to determine the parents' abilities to work together for the well-being of their child.
When a child is raised in an environment where one parent continually belittles and criticizes the other parent, the child can develop a loathing for the parent that is being criticized. This profoundly influences the child's relationship with the other parent. Connecticut divorce laws allows judges to consider whether or not this sort of estrangement of one parent at the hands of the other is taking place. If it is, it can affect the court's custody decisions.
Parents Ability to Be Actively Involved with Child
Whether or not a parent is able to spend regular time with the child can influence a custody decision. A parent who is in the military and stationed overseas for long periods of time might fall under this category. Another example would be a parent travelling extensively for a career, thereby missing important events and dates in the child's life.
Child's Adjustment to Current Environment
If a child is thriving in her current school, home and community environment, the judge is unlikely to disrupt that. The court can also look at the length of time a child has been in the environment and whether or not the parent can continue to provide a stable situation after the divorce is finalized.
Child's Cultural Background
Different cultures have different views of family and child-rearing. This law allows the court to consider unique cultural beliefs that may have a bearing on the family dynamic on a case-by-case basis.
A past or continuing history of domestic violence within the family can be balanced into the decision of custody in Connecticut. If domestic violence has occurred, the court may consider it even if it is not a case of parental violence against the child.