Connecticut Custody and Visitation Schedules
Your child custody and visitation schedule is important to you and to your child. Here's how to set up a Connecticut visitation schedule.
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
When creating a child visitation schedule in the State of Connecticut, it is important to know what type of custody the parents will have and to have knowledge of the family laws of the state.
The laws pertaining to child custody and visitation can be found in the General Statutes of Connecticut, Title 46b, Family Law.
If you study the law, you will discover that the Superior Courts prefer that parents come to an agreement on most matters, including child custody, and submit their agreement to the court.
The court will review the agreement, and will either accept the agreement as it stands, or reject it, either in whole or part. The court may make changes as it deems proper for the circumstances of the case (GSC 46b-66).
You will find that it is in the best interest of both parents (and your child) if you can reach a fair and equitable agreement so that the rule of the court will not encroach upon your ability to decide and determine what will work for your child.
Before you begin drafting your child visitation schedule, it is very important to realize that the schedule will become a binding court order in the State of Connecticut, and there are penalties for interfering with a child custody or visitation order.
If you are found to be in contempt of a child custody order, you will be held responsible for paying the legal fees of the other party (that would file against you), the fees of the officer serving the contempt citation, and you may even face jail time for failing to comply with the court order (GSC 46b-87).
This should be kept in mind when creating your child visitation schedule. You will want to make a schedule that you are comfortable with and will be able to comply with and enforce.
If you cannot agree on a schedule or do not submit a schedule to the court, the court will make one for you. The benefit to creating your own schedule is that you can be flexible and creative with it. You will be able to work with your own availability to create a schedule that benefits your child.
For example, if you do not get off work until 5 p.m., it would not make sense to state in the schedule that you would be dropping the child off at the other parent's house at that time. You would be unable to do it and therefore in contempt of the court order.
Instead, taking your schedule into account, you could either allow the other parent to pick the child up from a care giver at 5 p.m. or stipulate that you will drop the child off at 6 p.m., instead.
If you were to allow the court to mandate your schedule, you would lose all control over it.
That is a possibility. Another piece of Connecticut law you may wish to consider is the ability of third parties to apply for (and receive) visitation rights with the child (GSC 46b-59).
The court may, at its discretion, allow for a third party to have visitation with the child if a person applies and it is found to be in the best interest of the child, or if the child indicates that they would like visitation with the third party.
The third party could be a grandparent, a relative, or even a non-relative. The court is not likely to go outside of the parents' wishes and afford visitation to a person without cause, but if a person, such as a grandparent, can prove to the court that they have a previously established relationship with the child and that the severing of the bond between them would prove to be detrimental to the child, that person is more likely to receive some visitation time.
Visitation time with a third party does not imply that the third party has any parental or custodial rights, and it does not take away any of the rights of the parents.
If a third party has requested visitation rights, it may be a good idea to include some form of visitation for that person in your child visitation schedule so that the visitation will take place on your terms, and not the courts.
For example, if your child's paternal grandmother is seeking visitation, you can stipulate that she is to have her visitation during the father's parenting time, and make adjustments to the schedule so that your child will still have sufficient time with the father, as well.
Your Connecticut child visitation schedule should contain at least these basic elements:
- A basic schedule that will dictate when each parent will have parenting time with the child on an ongoing basis. You can opt to use a "traditional" schedule, modify one, or create something entirely unique that works for your child.
- A holiday schedule that shows how the parents will share holidays and special days. Some parents just rotate the holidays and alternate them each year. You are free to decide whatever is best for your child. You may also include any days, such as non-traditional religious holidays, you would like.
- A vacation schedule with provisions for school and personal vacation time. Typically, the school vacations are set and the personal vacations can be flexible, with notice. This can be customized to best suit your child's needs.
- Provisions for the transportation of the child between the parents, including the location of the transfer and who is responsible for picking up and dropping off the child.
The type of schedule you have should reflect the type of custody you each have.
As you begin to make your residential schedule, you will need to decide where your child will live. You can basically choose between two types of residential schedules:
- Parents can share joint parental responsibility and share physical custody in a way that assures the child of continuing contact with both parents; or
- One parent can have sole custody where the child lives with that parent and has parenting time with the noncustodial parent.
If you and the other parent are able to agree on a joint schedule or a sole schedule for your plan then the court will most likely accept it.
If you are not able to agree, the Connecticut court can order you to try mediation or other conciliation methods. (The state of Connecticut also has a parenting class that the court can order the parents to attend.)
If you are still not able to agree, each parent may submit a proposed plan with a proposed schedule and the court will determine the custody arrangements of the child.
As you create your schedule in the State of Connecticut, it is important to keep in mind that it is a "child" visitation schedule, not a "parent" visitation schedule. The schedule should be made in accordance with maintaining the best interests of your child.
Connecticut revolves its Superior Court family law decisions around the child's best interests.
The State maintains a preference that, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, it is in the best interests of a child to have frequent and ongoing contact with both parents (GSC 46b-56a-b).
A mutually agreed upon child visitation schedule that reflects the will of the court can be expected to be accepted by the court.
The top twenty cities in Connecticut (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Bristol, West Hartford, Meriden, Milford, West Haven, Stratford, East Hartford, Middletown, Shelton, Norwich, Torrington, Trumbull.