Three courts decide matters of temporary custody in Connecticut:

1. Juvenile Court. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) file Orders of Temporary Custody (OTC) in Juvenile Court. When DCF files an OTC, they request temporary custody of child and then place the child in foster care or with a relative. For DCF to assume temporary custody of child, a judge must find that the child is suffering from serious physical illness or injury or that the child is in immediate physical danger in their current environment.

2. Probate Court. An OTC in Probate Court must be accompanied by an application to remove one, or both of the parents, as guardians or a termination of parental rights petition must be pending. The standard for an OTC is similar to that in Juvenile Court. However, unlike in Juvenile Court, the applicant is not DCF but usually a relative such as grandparent or other third party.

3. Family Court. Temporary custody motions (also referred to as a pendente lite Motion for Custody) in Family Court are typically part of a divorce case but can also involve a pending custody case involving unmarried parents. Pendente lite motions for custody sometimes allege safety or child welfare concerns but are also filed simply to establish a Parenting Plan so that the parents and child can follow a set schedule. The standard for temporary custody motions in Family Court is the “best interest of the child.” Unlike in Juvenile Court or Probate Court, it is not necessary to prove specific instances of child maltreatment since the custody determination involves a contest between parents rather than transferring custody to DCF or another third party.

The Family Court can also address an emergency temporary custody order if there is reason to believe that a parent will flee the state with the child or if the parent has been arrested for custodial interference. Family Courts may also award temporary custody as part of a restraining order where the perpetrator and the victim have a common child.

Please contact me to discuss temporary custody in Connecticut.

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