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Child custody in Connecticut: When a custodial parent dies

Losing a parent is devastating to a child. But when that parent is the custodial parent according to a child custody agreement coming out of a divorce, it can be even more life-altering for a child in many ways. The law in Connecticut has proper procedures in place when it comes to who will take on the caregiver role of children who lose the parent with whom they were living. In many cases, that role reverts to a noncustodial parent, grandparents or other relatives.

If there is absolutely no one, the child may become a ward of the state and would enter the foster child program. This is the least favorable option for a child who is already grieving the loss of a parent. A family member willing to take on the role of caretaker may petition the court to become a legal guardian of the child after which time they could opt to adopt the child.

If the custodial parent who dies is the mother, a father could step up to become the custodial parent, but he may have to prove paternity of the child. If his signature is on the birth certificate, the court will look favorably on that. If not, he may file an acknowledgement of paternity form with the court after undergoing paternity testing. A third party -- like a close family friend -- could also apply to become a child's guardian, especially when the child has a close bond with the person.

A Connecticut lawyer may be the most prudent person from whom to seek advice in these kinds of situations involving child custody. A family law attorney knows the laws and procedures of his or her state and how they pertain to children. A child who loses his or her custodial parent is in a vulnerable situation, and a compassionate lawyer will always have the best interests of the child at heart. 


Source:, "Child Custody Following the Death of Custodial Parent", Debrina Washington, Accessed on May 11, 2018

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  • Hi Yuliana and Attorney Prince, Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to meet with me. I really appreciated how compassionate you were while listening to my situation, even through my tears. Thank you so much for sharing such valuable information with me. I left feeling very hopeful that when the dust settles, I’ll be ok.
  • Wendy helped guide us through a very difficult and emotional process and was really able to provide an even and fair account for both parties. It's quite evident in her expertise in this area but the way she was able to make you feel safe and secure in a very insecure time goes far beyond her legal prowess. If the two parties are really willing to cooperate and collaborate, she's there to help gain the best possible solution for all involved, especially if there are children.
  • Regardless of how committed one is to the fact that divorce may be imminent and necessary, it is truly one of the most emotional and stressful situations one can experience. It can also be daunting. Wendy has a remarkable ability to cut through the noise and help you focus on the big picture while drilling down on what is most pertinent to your particular situation., they are a formidable team who work collectively with your best interests in mind.
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