When a Connecticut couple divorces with minor children, a major part of the divorce proceedings will consist of making appropriate provisions for the children's wellbeing. As part of the divorce, a parental responsibility plan will form part of the final divorce order.
When both parents agree on the contents of the plan, they can submit it to the court for approval. Judges will usually approve plans unless they decide a provision would not be in the best interests of the children. In such a case, they may modify the plan.
Contents of the plan
According to Connecticut law, a parental responsibility plan must address several important issues. The plan must set forth in detail where the children will reside and how the parents intend to allocate decision-making authority in matters such as education, health care and other relevant situations. The plan should also have provisions detailing how the parents will communicate with one another and resolve conflicts that may arise. The plan should also state what happens if parents need to change visitation arrangements or if one parent stops complying with the plan.
The court's role
If the parents are not able to agree on the provisions of the plan, the court will step in. Preliminarily, the court may order a custody study to learn more about the family's circumstances and determine what the children's best interests would be. Sometimes, the court also appoints a guardian ad litem to represent the children.
Factors affecting the best interests of the children
When deciding on a plan or considering a submitted plan for approval, courts typically look at several factors that influence the children's wellbeing. These include the wishes of the parents and the children themselves. Other relevant factors include the children's schooling, established schedules, social life and medical needs. Courts also look at factors that can affect a parent's ability to provide proper physical and emotional care, such as involvement in the child's life, history of substance abuse or health conditions. Attempts to alienate the children from the other parent or to manipulate the system in one's favor can count heavily against a parent.