“We have consistently held in matters involving child custody that while the rights, wishes and desires of the parents must be considered it is nevertheless the ultimate welfare of the child which must control the decision of the court.” In re Appeal of Kindis, 162 Conn. 239, 242, 294 A.2d 316 (1972).

“The guiding principle in determining custody is the best interest of the child.” Schult v. Schult, 241 Conn. 767, 777, 699 A.2d 134 (1997).

“There shall be a presumption, affecting the burden of proof, that joint custody is in the best interests of a minor child where the parents have agreed to an award of joint custody or so agree in open court at a hearing for the purpose of determining the custody of the minor child or children of the marriage. If the court declines to enter an order awarding joint custody pursuant to this subsection, the court shall state in its decision the reasons for denial of an award of joint custody.” § 46b-56a(b) (2006 supp.).

In any dispute as to the custody of a minor child involving a parent and a nonparent, there shall be a presumption that it is in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the parent, which presumption may be rebutted by showing that it would be detrimental to the child to permit the parent to have custody.

Sections in this chapter:

§ 1  NEW STATUTORY FACTORS (EFFECTIVE OCTOBER  1, 2005)
§ 2  PRIOR FACTORS USED BY THE COURTS
§ 3  ORDERS RE CUSTODY
§ 4  PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY PLAN
§ 5  THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PARENT
§ 6  WISHES OF THE CHILD
§ 7  PARENTAL RELOCATION OUT OF STATE     
§ 8  PARENTAL MISCONDUCT
§ APPENDIX A  UNPUBLISHED OPINION: RUDOLEWICZ

Statutory Factors Re: Best Interest of the Child Standard
Since October 1, 2005
In making or modifying any order as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the court shall consider the best interests of the child, and in doing so may consider, but shall not be limited to, one or more of the following factors    Conn. Gen. Stats. § 46b-56(c) (2006 supp.)
Diez-Canseco v. Hunt, No. FA04-4001769 (Conn. Super. Ct., J.D. New London ( Apr. 19, 2006) 2006 WL 1230063.  “The court has also weighed all of the relevant factors now enumerated in General Statutes § 46b-56(c), particularly the developmental needs of Carlos, the capacity and the disposition of the parent to understand and meet his needs, the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, including compliance with court orders, any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to include the child in the parents’ dispute, the stability of the child’s existing and proposed residences, and the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child. Clearly the present custodial arrangement of two weeks in Connecticut with the plaintiff and two weeks in Maine with the defendant is not in Carlos’ best interests. Unfortunately due to the defendant’s lack of transportation and funds, the plaintiff has had to bear all the burdens of transportation.”

Statutory Factors
Conn. Gen. Stats § 46b-56(c) (2006 supp.)

In making or modifying any order as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the court shall consider the best interests of the child, and in doing so may consider, but shall not be limited to, one or more of the following factors:

(1) The temperament and developmental needs of the child;

(2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;

(3) any relevant and material information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child;

(4) the wishes of the child’s parents as to custody;

(5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the best interests of the child;

(6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders;

(7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute;

(8) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;

(9) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community environments;

(10) the length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity in such environment, provided the court may consider favorably a parent who voluntarily leaves the child’s family home pendente lite in order to alleviate stress in the household;

(11) the stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences, or both;

(12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child;

(13) the child’s cultural background;

(14) the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or the child;

(15) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected, as defined respectively in section 46b-120; and

(16) whether the party satisfactorily completed participation in a parenting education program established pursuant to section 46b-69b. The court is not required to assign any weight to any of the factors that it considers.

The court is not required to assign any weight to any of the factors that it considers.

Prior Factors Re: Best Interest of the Child Standard
Prior to October 1, 2005

“We continue to adhere to the view that the legislature was acting wisely in leaving the delicate and difficult process of fact-finding in family matters to flexible, individualized adjudication of the particular facts of each case without the constraint of objective guidelines.” Seymour v. Seymour, 180 Conn. 705, 710, 433 A.2d 1005 (1980).

Conn. GenERAL. StatUTES. Prior to October 1, 2005

§ 46b-56. Superior Court orders re custody or visitation, the court shall:

(b). In making or modifying any order with respect to custody or visitation, the court shall:

(1) be guided by the best interest of the child, giving consideration to the wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capable of forming an intelligent preference, provided in making the initial order the court may take into consideration the causes for dissolution of the marriage or legal separation if such causes are relevant in a determination of the best interest of the child and

(2) consider whether the party satisfactorily completed participation in a parenting education established pursuant to section 46b-69b.

(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, when a motion for modification of custody or visitation is pending before the court or has been decided by the court and the investigation ordered by the court pursuant to section 46b-6 recommends psychiatric or psychological therapy for a child, and such therapy would, in the court’s opinion, be in the best interests of the child and aid the child’s response to a modification, the court may order such therapy and reserve judgment on the motion for modification.

§ 45a-719. Reopening judgment terminating parental rights. “ . . . For the purpose of this section, “best interest of the child” shall include, but not be limited to, a consideration of the age of the child, the nature of the relationship of the child with the caretaker of the child, the length of time the child has been in the custody of the caretaker, the nature of the relationship of the child with the birth parent, the length of time the child has been in the custody of the birth parent, any relationship that may exist between the child and siblings or other children in the caretaker’s house­hold, and the psychological and medical needs of the child. The determination of the best interest of the child shall not he based on a consideration of the socio-economic status of the birth parent or the caretaker.”

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