Westport Divorce Lawyer - Dori Ellen Feltman

"Dori-Ellen is a brilliantly skilled attorney. She is smart, organized and tough. When my ex-husband filed for physical custody of our children, Dori-Ellen put a detailed plan together and helped me stand up to him in court and fight for what was in the best interest of our children. As someone who is intimidated by the court system, I felt confident and well represented. Dori-Ellen is a fighter and I highly recommend her."

— Liz, Greenwich CT

Child Custody and Visitation in CT

Resolving child custody and visitation matters can be sensitive and emotional. I work closely with my clients in developing a negotiated parenting plan that is in the best interest of their children or, if necessary, working closely with my clients in preparing the strongest case for a positive resolution in Court.

What is legal custody in Connecticut?

Legal custody refers to the legal authority of a parent to make major decisions that affect their children’s health, education and welfare. The Connecticut courts favor joint legal custody, where both parents share decision-making regarding education, non-emergency medical treatment, religious upbringing and extra-curricular activities of their children. However, in some situations, sole legal custody may be awarded to one parent, such as where there is demonstrated evidence that the parties are unable to cooperate and make decisions together, where a child has special needs which requires specialized or immediate decision making, or where one parent has mental health or substance abuse issues impacting his or her judgment or the safety of the children.

What is physical child custody in Connecticut?

Physical custody determines which parent has primary residential custody. The child may primarily reside with one parent, or the parents may share parenting time on a more equal basis. The best parenting plans consider many factors including the parents’ work schedules, the distance between homes, special needs of a child and, in the cases of older children, the preferences of the child.

What factors does the Court consider in awarding physical custody?

The ultimate determination for child custody is based upon the “best interest” of the child. In making the best interest determination, the Court may consider many factors including:

  • The developmental needs of the child
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the needs of the child
  • The informed preferences of the child
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a relationship with the child and the other parent
  • Any manipulation or coercive behavior of the parents to involve the child in the parents’ dispute
  • The ability of each parent to be active in the child’s life
  • The stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences
  • The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser if domestic violence has occurred between the parents

What happens if parents cannot agree on legal or physical custody of their child?

If your custody matter cannot be resolved by mutual agreement, the Court may appoint a separate attorney to advocate your child’s preferences in Court, or, with younger children, a guardian ad litem to assess what is in the best interests of your child and to make recommendations to the Court. In other cases, your matter will be referred to the Family Relations office of the courthouse for evaluation and recommendations. Ultimately, the best interest of your child is paramount.

Contested custody matters may involve domestic violence, substance abuse and other situations that may cause risk or harm to children. I have extensive experience both pursuing protective orders on behalf of parents and their children as well as defending those falsely accused.

Often custody matters arise post-divorce, such as where one parent desires to relocate with the children out of state. I have successfully represented parents wishing to relocate with the children as well as those opposing such relocation.

For a consultation regarding child support, modification of a child support order, enforcement of a child support order, or college support order, please call my office at (203) 557-0557 or complete the contact form on this site. My office is conveniently located at 246 Post Road East in Westport, Connecticut.

7 Mistakes That Can Cost You in a Custody Battle

Custody cases are emotionally fraught, difficult for everyone involved and can be very expensive.

In my experience, parents make the following mistakes during this process, which ultimately harm their position with the third-party professionals involved with their case and ultimately the Court.

Read the Article