Shared Custody, September 2017

Recent inquiries to our office have overwhelmingly involved custody and parenting issues. Parents want to know what is sole custody, joint legal custody, joint legal custody with primary residential rights, joint legal custody with final decision-making and what is shared custody. We will focus on shared physical custody in the next few paragraphs.

According to the Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines Regulations Paragraph 23:

  • "Shared physical custody" means a situation in which the physical residence of the child is shared by the parents in a manner that ensures the child has substantially equal time and contact with both parents. An exactly equal sharing of physical care and control [of the child] is not required.

According to the Deviation Criteria listed in the Guideline Regulations:

  • A finding of shared custody should be made only where each parent exercises physical care and control of the child for periods substantially in excess of two overnights on alternating weekends, alternate holidays, some vacation time, and other visits of short duration which may include an overnight during the week.

Please note that the key word is "substantially."

The Child Support Commission has rejected the apportionment of time as criteria for payment of child support but couples continue to employ this strategy as shared custody can be the basis for deviation from the guidelines. A deviation from the presumptive child support obligation may be had where the best interest of the child and fairness to the parents are considerations.

Without a finding of deviation, the party with the larger income pays child support to the person with the lower income.

Shared custody can get very complicated. When considering whether it is for your children, you must look to their age, their development, the distance between the households, whether the families are blended families and involve other children, the number of transitions involved, and the personalities of the children.