§ 46b-56a. Joint custody. Definition. Presumption. Conciliation. Parental responsibility plan. Modification of orders
(a) For the purposes of this section, “joint custody” means an order awarding legal custody of the minor child to both parents, providing for joint decision-making by the parents and providing that physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of continuing contact with both parents. The court may award joint legal custody without awarding joint physical custody where the parents have agreed to merely joint legal custody.
(b) There shall be a presumption, affecting the burden of proof, that joint custody is in the best interests of a minor child where the parents have agreed to an award of joint custody or so agree in open court at a hearing for the purpose of determining the custody of the minor child or children of the marriage. If the court declines to enter an order awarding joint custody pursuant to this subsection, the court shall state in its decision the reasons for denial of an award of joint custody.
(c) If only one parent seeks an order of joint custody upon a motion duly made, the court may order both parties to submit to conciliation at their own expense with the costs of such conciliation to be borne by the parties as the court directs according to each party’s ability to pay.
(d) In any proceeding before the Superior Court involving a dispute between the parents of a minor child with respect to the custody, care, education and upbringing of such child, the parents shall file with the court, at such time and in such form as provided by rule of court, a proposed parental responsibility plan that shall include, at a minimum, the following: (1) A schedule of the physical residence of the child during the year; (2) provisions allocating decision-making authority to one or both parents regarding the child’s health, education and religious upbringing; (3) provisions for the resolution of future disputes between the parents, including, where appropriate, the involvement of a mental health professional or other parties to assist the parents in reaching a developmentally appropriate resolution to such disputes; (4) provisions for dealing with the parents’ failure to honor their responsibilities under the plan; (5) provisions for dealing with the child’s changing needs as the child grows and matures; and (6) provisions for minimizing the child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict, encouraging the parents in appropriate circumstances to meet their responsibilities through agreements, and protecting the best interests of the child.
(e) The objectives of a parental responsibility plan under this section are to provide for the child’s physical care and emotional stability, to provide for the child’s changing needs as the child grows and to set forth the authority and responsibility of each parent with respect to the child.
(f) If both parents consent to a parental responsibility plan under this section, such plan shall be approved by the court as the custodial and access orders of the court pursuant to section 46b-56, unless the court finds that such plan as submitted and agreed to is not in the best interests of the child.
(g) The court may modify any orders made under this section in accordance with section 46b-56.