The state of Connecticut is serious about revamping its child custody laws. Recently, a 10-member legislative panel, called the Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Involving the Care and Custody of Minor Children, issued a report to the Connecticut State Judiciary regarding the state of child custody laws and proceedings in Connecticut. This 43-page report was created over a four-month period, involving 13 meetings and a 15-hour hearing that was held open to the public.
Why the Need for the Task Force?
The task force was created last year with the goal of providing suggestions and advice for the reformation of Connecticut’s current child custody laws. During its examination, the task force reviewed an assortment of issues, though it specifically focused on the high legal fees that families have been required to pay in order resolve custody disputes.
The high legal cost for child custody-related cases has been a major point of contention in Connecticut, especially for fathers who seem to bear a disproportionate brunt of the fees. The role of attorneys and guardians in child custody cases has also been a big issue in Connecticut, and this issue helped spur the creation of the task force.
The Task Force Suggestions
The task force is simply an advisory board whose suggestions do not have to be followed by the Connecticut Judiciary. However, their findings will help the Connecticut Judiciary in narrowing its scope regarding what reforms are needed for the state custody laws. A majority of the task force provided their approval that the following issues should be reviewed by the Connecticut State Judiciary, including:
- If parents should have the legal standing necessary to bring a motion for the removal of a guardian ad litem (“GAL”) or court appointed attorney for a minor child (“AMC”);
- Whether rules should be created to set an hourly billing rate standard for services charged by GALs and AMCs; and
- Whether information should be made public via online publishing or via hard copy about the duties, roles, and compensations of GALs and AMCs.
The task force had many suggestions that were not approved by the majority, and thus were not submitted for review to the Connecticut Judiciary. The suggestions that did not receive enough approval include:
- A push for an adoption of the presumption of shared custody standard, accompanied with the possibility of rebuttal via the presentation of evidence of abuse and/or parental neglect;
- A call for more intricate processes and screening before the appointment of a GAL or AMC, including the appointment of the Office of the Chief Public Defender to oversee such custody issues; and
- Fees paid by parties to AMCs or GALs would be capped at $10,000.
Change may be coming to the custody laws in Connecticut. However, these changes depend on how much consideration the Connecticut State Judiciary gives to the suggestions contained within the Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Involving the Care and Custody of Minor Children report.
Contact the family law attorneys here at Greenberg and Krieger in Fairfield County, Connecticut for any questions you may have about child custody laws in Connecticut.