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Legal Information: Connecticut

Custody

Laws current as of January 3, 2024

Who is entitled to custody?

If there is a disagreement between a parent and a non-parent about custody, a judge can assume that it is in the best interest of the child to be with the parent. This is true unless it can be shown that being with the parent would be harmful to the child.

Where the parents are no longer living or unfit, the judge can award custody to another person or to an agency such as the Department of Human Resources, depending on what the judge believes to be in the best interest of the child. If one parent is dead, is unable or refuses to take custody, or has abandoned the child, the other parent is usually entitled to custody of the child.1

1 C.G.S. § 46b-56b

Can a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?

The judge will consider various factors when making an order of custody and visitation. One factor a judge can consider is if domestic violence has occurred between the parents, between a parent and someone else, or between a parent and the child – the judge can consider the effect that the actions of the abuser have had on the child.1 However, this is only one of many factors considered and does not necessarily mean that an abuser will not get some form of custody or visitation.

1 C.G.S. § 46b-56(c)(14)

I am the child's grandparent, close relative, etc. Can I get visitation?

Anyone can file for visitation if s/he can allege in the petition, and later prove at a hearing, that:

  1. a parent-like relationship exists between the person and the child; and
  2. denial of visitation would cause real and significant harm.1

In determining whether a “parent-like relationship” exists between the petitioner and the child, the judge can consider the following factors (among others):

  • the length of the relationship between the petitioner and the child before s/he filed for visitation;
  • the length of time that the relationship between the petitioner and the child has been disrupted;
  • the specific parent-like activities of the petitioner toward the child;
  • any evidence that the petitioner has unreasonably undermined the authority and discretion of the custodial parent;
  • the significant absence of a parent from the life of the child;
  • the death of one of the child’s parents;
  • the physical separation of the parents of the child;
  • the fitness of the person seeking visitation; and
  • the fitness of the custodial parent.2

If the person applying for visitation is a grandparent (or great-grandparent), the judge can also consider the history of regular contact and proof of a close and substantial relationship between the grandparent and the child in addition to considering the factors above.3

In determining the best interests of the child, the judge is supposed to consider the child’s wishes if s/he is old enough to be able of form an intelligent opinion.4

Note: If a grandparent or other person is granted visitation, such visitation rights cannot be a ground for preventing the relocation of the custodial parent.5

1 C.G.S. § 46b-59(b)
2 C.G.S. § 46b-59(c)
3 C.G.S. § 46b-59(d)
4 C.G.S. § 46b-59(e)
5 C.G.S. § 46b-59(f)