Despite Child’s Wishes, Mother Awarded Custody

In a Superior Court decision, Sorrell v. Sorrell, the court awarded the mother primary custody of all three children despite the eldest child’s clear wishes. The parties had been married 15 years before the dissolution of marriage action had been brought because of irretrievable breakdown. The court found there was no hope for reconciliation and dissolved the marriage accordingly. Custody of the ex-couple’s three children became the real issue.

The couple had resided mainly in CT despite few sporadic moves to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida. Upon the couple’s last move to Florida, the couple’s marriage was on the rocks. Because of this, the husband decided to stay in Florida while the wife moved back to Connecticut with all three children. From then on the couple did nothing but argue over every issue, and the father had sporadic contact with his children. Upon dissolution, the wife sought sole custody of the children while the husband sought joint custody.

In consideration the court found that the mother had made most, if not all, of the important decisions for the children. She was their main caretaker and disciplinarian. Almost all of the children’s family resided in Connecticut and none, besides their father, lived in Florida. The husband even suggested that the two minor children stay in Connecticut with their mother but that he believed it was in his eldest daughters best interest to move to Florida and live with him. He had currently been living with his new girlfriend of two years at the time of the action and her 26 year old son with whom he had minimal contact. The eldest daughter even expressed her wishes to move to Florida with her father since she had been having ongoing conflict with her mother since the couple’s separation and at one point even moved out to live with her godparents.

But, after much consideration, the court found it was in the best interests of all three children to remain in Connecticut with their mother. In entering the decree the court took into consideration among other things, the length of the marriage, the causes of the breakdown of the marriage, the age of the parties, their health, skills, employability, amount and sources of income, distribution of the marital assets, their resources, and their respective ability to acquire work and future income. In the court’s findings it found that the mother had been the primary source of the upbringing and general welfare of all three children. The court went on to say, that all the support family resided in CT, and that the best educational interests of the eldest child were to remain in CT because she had recently been accepted to a good high school and because the father had minimal knowledge about Florida schooling and no plan for his daughter to enroll.

This case shows that even despite a child’s wishes, a Connecticut court will always look to the best interests of the child. Although factors such as the child’s wishes are considered, the best interest rule always prevails. If you or someone you know needs help with a divorce, alimony, custody or visitation issue, call one of Maya Murphy’s experienced family law attorneys in Westport, CT today at 203-221-3100.

Written by Kyle M. Buonocore
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