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Child custody is guided by presumption in favor of joint custody

The trend in child custody law, including in Connecticut, is toward favoring joint custody. In this state's child custody law, joint custody is divided into two sections, joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Legal custody refers to the decision-making that the parents make regarding the education, health and welfare of the children, whereas physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent has with physical possession of the children.

Connecticut law contains a legal presumption that joint custody is the preferable relationship. Joint child custody in this state means both legal custody and physical custody. The presumption is based on a long list of studies that have concluded that children had healthier and more positive outcomes when both parents remained strongly involved in their upbringing.

This arrangement contemplates that each parent will have the children roughly half the time. However, in some instances dividing the time down the middle results in an unworkable or logistically unsound plan. In those cases, the family law court will award joint legal custody but will give primary physical custody to one parent with visitation to the other.

In addition, the presumption toward joint custody is usually limited to a situation where both parties agree to it. Where the presumption is overcome by evidence that one parent is abusive, suffers from a significant addiction or is mentally or emotionally unfit, the court will look to a more traditional sole physical custody award. The noncustodial parent will obtain visitation rights according to the facts of the case and what the court determines to be in the best interest of the children.

About half of the states now have a presumption favoring joint child custody. Only one state requires joint custody even where one parent is opposed. The wording of that state's law is emphatic that the court must award joint custody, with exceptions in the event of a history of domestic violence. Although the law in Connecticut gives the family law court greater discretion in deciding such matters, the trend toward joint custody is expected to get stronger nationwide as time progresses.  

Source: reason.com, "In Win For Fathers' Rights, Kentucky Says Judges Must Presume Shared Parenting In Child Custody Battles", Elizabeth Nolan Brown, May 17, 2018

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