Can teens influence Connecticut custody cases?

People with children often have a lot to worry about during divorce. Connecticut law technically extends the same basic rights to all parents, but they often worry about unfavorable outcomes during child custody litigation.

Parents who have strained relationships with their children may worry that the kids will ask to live with the other parent. How much of an influence does a child’s preference have on custody proceedings in Connecticut?

Judges might consider a child’s preferences

Connecticut law requires that litigated custody matters prioritize the best interests of the children. Usually, judges hope to see both parents cooperating with each other and putting the children’s needs first.

They will look at pre-existing relationships and a parent’s living circumstances when making decisions. They may also consider the child’s wishes, although those will not automatically determine the outcome of the custody matter.

Older children can be allowed to communicate their preferences to the courts. A judge will consider a child’s maturity and age, with those who are 13 or older often having the option to speak about their preferences. Children generally cannot refuse to have a relationship with either parent in a custody case unless there is compelling evidence of a history of abuse, neglect or other highly problematic issues.

Even when a parent has a strained relationship with their children currently, committing to a shared custody schedule and showing up for the children may lead to improvements in that relationship over time. Understanding what influences custody determinations in Connecticut may benefit those worried about what divorce or separation would mean for their families.