New Haven Child Custody Attorney
Joint & Sole Custody in CT
Attorney Thomas J. Piscatelli is experienced in trial and litigation, having the knowledge and skills to reach favorable resolutions, especially in matters as serious as child custody. This can help ensure you address your needs and goals in your custody case in preparation for trial, if negotiation does not resolve the dispute. You may understandably be navigating tough waters following a divorce, so it is advisable to work with an experienced custody lawyer like Attorney Piscatelli to safeguard your rights as a parent throughout negotiation and trial. It is also worth noting that Attorney Piscatelli is a certified Guardian ad Litem, which means he can legally protect the rights and interests of minor children involved in various legal matters in the state. Whether you are gearing up for a custody battle or seek emergency custody, Attorney Piscatelli can help you.
Types of Custody in Connecticut
When parents divorce in Connecticut, a judge will issue a custody order to assign parenting time and responsibilities for shared children. There are various types of custody arrangements in Connecticut, including legal custody and physical custody, which may be sole or joint (parents share custody).
A parent with sole physical custody primarily lives with the child, and parents with joint physical custody may share time with the child (e.g., a child spends four nights per week at one parent’s house and three nights per week at the other’s house). Note that in cases of sole custody, the custodial parent that the child resides with has the final say on extracurricular, medical, or educational decisions involving the child. Connecticut visitation laws require that the noncustodial parent have at least a minimum amount of visitation with the child in cases of sole physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the power to make major decisions regarding the child’s welfare on educational, medical, and religious matters. Connecticut has a preference for joint legal custody so that both parents can share decision-making power regarding their shared children. In fact, even if one parent is awarded sole physical custody in Connecticut, a judge will often award joint legal custody unless there are reasons it would be unsafe for the child.
Determining the Custody Arrangement
Parents can reach their own agreements regarding custody without the influence of the court by negotiating on their own or with the help of a mediator or attorney. However, a court will have the final say in reviewing the custody agreement to ensure it serves the best interests of the children. A Connecticut judge will assess several factors to evaluate a child’s best interests, including:
- the child’s temperament and needs;
- each parent’s ability to understand and meet the needs of the child;
- each parent’s ability to be actively involved in the child’s life;
- each parent’s willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and other parent;
- the child’s past and current relationship with each parent;
- each parent’s physical and mental health;
- the child’s cultural background;
- the stability of each parent’s residence and child’s ties to the community;
- the parents’ wishes for sole or joint custody; and
- the child’s wishes for custody if the child is of a sufficient age.
There is no specific rule on what age a child must be to have their custody preference considered. Connecticut custody laws only require that the child be “of sufficient age” to have their wishes considered, though 12 years old is generally a reasonable minimum age to express a custody preference.
Modifying an Existing Order
Understandably, circumstances change over time which may warrant a reasonable custody modification. However, there must be a material change in circumstances to justify a change in custody.
Either parent can file to modify a child custody order in Connecticut. A judge will only consider a modification request if at least 2 years have passed since the last order was entered or there has been a major change that affects the child’s safety or well-being. The petition should explain to the court why a custody change is warranted, such as if one parent has moved out of the state. Keep in mind that a judge will only grant a custody modification if it serves a child’s best interests.
Note that when dealing with a more recent custody order, a court will modify the arrangement only if it preserves the child’s safety, stability, or well-being. More specifically, a court might modify a recent custody in one of the following situations:
- the primary custodial parent has been imprisoned since the last custody order;
- the child is being physically or sexually abused;
- the child’s mental and physical health has severely deteriorated;
- the child has experienced a sharp decline in their school performance;
- the primary custodial parent has developed a health or medical condition making it impossible to adequately care for the child; or
- any other situation negatively impacting the child’s best interests.
Emergency Custody Orders
In certain circumstances, a parent may make a request for an emergency ex parte order of custody of a minor child when they believe there is an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child. The application should contain an affidavit with a statement:
- of the conditions requiring an emergency ex parte order;
- that an emergency ex parte order is in the best interests of the child; and
- of the actions taken by the applicant or any other person to inform the respondent of the request or why the court should consider such application on an ex parte basis absent such actions.
The court will order a hearing after receiving the application. If, prior to or after the hearing, the court agrees there is an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child, it may issue an emergency order for the protection of the child. The emergency order may provide temporary child custody or visitation rights and may prohibit the respondent from:
- removing the child from the state;
- interfering with the applicant’s custody of the child;
- interfering with the child’s educational program; or
- taking any other specific action if the court determines that prohibiting such action is in the best interests of the child.
Let an Experienced Custody Lawyer Protect Your Family
If you are facing a custody battle in New Haven, Connecticut, enlist the legal support of an experienced custody lawyer to handle your case. The Law Offices of Thomas J. Piscatelli can help safeguard your rights as a spouse and a parent, ensuring that you maintain the relationships you seek with your child as you negotiate your options with your spouse.
Advocating for Your Family's Best Interest
Responsive & Accessible From Start to Finish
Prepared to Go Trial When a Settlement Is Not a Viable Solution
Extensive Courtoom & Trial Experience
Attorney Piscatelli Handles Every Aspect of Every Case
Ready to Protect & Defend Your Rights in Court
“He is responsive, knowledgeable and driven to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients”- Paul J.
“I would highly recommend him to anyone requiring his area of legal expertise.”- Ed S.
“Tom is very professional and puts his clients first. He establishes good sound advise”- Kevin B.