Navigating the divorce process can be a scary, lonely and confusing process. It is even scarier when a parent is unsure how the separation will affect his relationship with his children. Often, fathers assume that they don’t have the same rights as mothers when it comes to child custody. In order to ensure they have the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome in their child custody order, Connecticut fathers will want to know how the state courts determine child custody arrangements.

The first important fact to keep in mind for biological fathers interested in custody of their children is that, in Connecticut, once paternity is established, they have the same parental rights mothers have. If the father and mother were married, paternity is assumed. If the couple was never married, paternity may have to be established.

Fathers should familiarize themselves with the types of custody arrangements available. The courts prefer to award joint custody so both parents are able to continue to be involved in the children’s lives. This is normally believed to be in the best interests of the children. When joint custody is not an option the court may award sole custody to one parent. Even then, the noncustodial parent usually has an ample amount of visitation time awarded.

To present himself in the best light possible, a father seeking custody should keep in mind several factors the court will assess for both parents.  He needs to not be a danger to his children, so he needs to be clear of substance abuse as well as child or spousal abuse. His ability to care for the children financially and emotionally will be considered as well. Also, depending on the children’s ages, their wishes may be taken into consideration.

Many fathers assume that the court will automatically award child custody to the mother and don’t take an active enough role to fight for their own rights. A father can absolutely maintain custody of his children, but he needs to be informed about the right steps to take to do so. An experienced attorney can carefully guide a father through the process, helping to ensure the most positive outcome for both him and his children.