If my child lives with me, does that mean I have custody?

No. When there are no court orders, the two legal parents share joint legal custody of a child, regardless of where the child lives.

How do I get custody of my child?

If there are no prior custody orders and the child has lived in Connecticut for at least six months (or since birth if less than six months), either parent can file a custody action in the Superior Court for the Judicial District in which he or she lives. The clerk's office has the necessary forms or they can be downloaded from the Judicial Website.

How do I establish that I am the father of my child?

If you are married to the mother at the time the child is born, you are presumed to be the legal father. If you are not married to the mother, you and the mother can file an acknowledgment of paternity to establish your paternity. This form may be completed in the hospital when a child is born, or at the local state Department of Social Services office. Only once paternity has been established are you considered the legal father of the child.

If you are unable to file an acknowledgment because of the mother's refusal to cooperate, you can file a petition with the probate court in the town where the child resides to establish your paternity.

What if I can't afford to pay the filing fee or the Marshall's fee?
You can file an Application for Waiver of Fees and ask for the filing fee and the Marshall’s fee to be waived. This Fee Waiver Application will be reviewed, and if you qualify, you will not be charged for filing your papers or having them served.

How do I get a lawyer for my child?

If you and the other parent disagree about custody or visitation in a pending case, you have the right to ask a judge to appoint a lawyer for your child by filing a Motion for Appointment of Counsel for Minor Children at the clerk’s office in Superior Court. If the lawyer is appointed as “attorney,” her job is to represent what your child wants. If the lawyer is appointed as “guardian-ad-litem,” she will tell the court what she believes to be in the best interests of the child. Usually the fees are divided between the parents, but the state may pay the attorney’s fee if the parents are unable to afford them. If you want CLC to represent your child, you can ask the judge who will determine if the case meets our criteria. Click here to view or print a booklet with a sample motion for requesting an attorney for your child.

Can I deny my child’s other parent visitation if he or she doesn’t pay child support?

No. Child support and visitation are independent of each other. A parent should not deny a child access to his or her parent if that parent stops paying child support. Also, a parent should not stop paying child support if visitation is denied.

How can a child become emancipated?
Emancipation removes a youth, ages 16 & 17, from the care of his/her parents. In order to be emancipated by the Court under Connecticut law, you must be at least 16 years old and meet one of the following conditions: 1) be married, 2) be in the armed forces, 3) be living apart from your parents or guardian and be managing your own finances, or 4) the court must determine that an emancipation is in the best interest of you or your parents. Either the parent or child can start the emancipation process by filing a Petition for Emancipation in the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters or the Probate Court in the town in which the child resides.

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