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Making a change in child custody or visitation orders

Parents in Connecticut may sometimes need to makes changes to child custody or visitation orders. In order to do so, it is necessary to return to court. A few criteria must be met that will increase the likelihood that the court will approve a change. The original custody or visitation order must have been made in Connecticut, the change must be in the child's best interests and there must have been a substantial change in circumstances. This change in circumstances means establishing a pattern of behavior in failing to abide by the court order or that the child is in danger. It is not possible to compel a parent to visit a child although the court can change the amount of visitation time.

The parent who wishes to make the change in custody or visitation must fill out several court forms, and a marshal will serve a notice to the other parent regarding the court date. There is a filing fee, but it may be possible to waive the fee in cases of financial hardship.

In court, the parent bringing the action must explain the reasons for wanting the change. If the change is approved but the other parent still does not abide by the new court order, it may be possible to file a contempt order.

A parent may wish to make a change in joint custody due to a concern that the child is being neglected or abused by the other parent. A family law attorney may be helpful at this stage in putting together an effective strategy including the development of evidence that will persuade the court to grant the request.

Source: Connecticut Network for Legal Aid, "How to Change Your Custody or Visitation Order", November 12, 2014

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