In Connecticut, child custody may be arranged in a number of ways. In a joint legal custody situation, both parents are involved with decision-making for the children regarding medical, educational, religious, and other major needs. Many individuals mistakenly believe that joint legal custody means the parents have equal time with the children, but this is not always the case.
Parties must discuss visitation, or parenting access time, in addition to legal custody concerns. Some parties can work well with a liberal and flexible (ie. non-descript) visitation arrangement; some parents need a more fixed schedule or defined plan concerning daily access, holidays, special occasions, and vacation time.
The parties are free to agree to custody and visitation arrangements on their own, or it may be ordered in court after a hearing or trial. To maintain control over the outcome of their case, many parties attend mediation to create a settlement agreement with the assistance of a neutral, the mediator. The mediator helps the parties create a comprehensive agreement that covers all custody and visitation issues. This agreement then becomes part of a court order to which the parties must adhere.
Mediation is an excellent resource, as it helps the parties resolve their dispute without the expense and delay of courtroom litigation. The parties remain in control over the outcome of their case, which is crucial to many parents as they decide how to share time with their children. Remember, if parties cannot agree, a Judge will make those decisions for you, and the result may be something neither party likes