The Appellate Court of Connecticut rejected respondent parents’ claims that the state trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate their minor child as neglected and commit the child to the custody of the petitioner, the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (hereinafter commissioner).

Case Background

Prior to this case, the respondent mother (hereinafter mother) had her parental rights terminated as to one child, and her twin daughters were committed to the care of the commissioner. The child at issue in this case was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the mother stated her attorney “told her to come to Massachusetts so that Connecticut [would] not be legally able to remove the child from her custody.”

A few days later, the commissioner sought and obtained an order of temporary custody, and the child was removed from the Massachusetts hospital and placed in foster care in Connecticut. The respondents filed a motion to dismiss this order, and their motion was granted because the child was not, and had never been, within this State at the time the order was requested.

The commissioner filed an application for a second order of temporary custody and neglect petition, which was granted because the child lived in a foster care placement located in Connecticut since just after birth. The order was sustained based on the doctrine of predicative neglect, and the child was committed to custody of the commissioner. The parents appealed this determination, contending that under Connecticut’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the case.

The Decision

The Appellate Court discussed the purpose of the UCCJEA, and stated that this act “is the enabling legislation for the court’s jurisdiction.” The Appellate Court agreed that the trial court had jurisdiction to make the initial child custody determination, particularly because Massachusetts did not qualify for jurisdiction. In addition, the Appellate Court outlined the trial court’s factual findings that the parents were residence of Willimantic, Connecticut, which included but was not limited to both parents listing a Willimantic address with the court. Equally noteworthy was that in their appellate briefs, the parents did not challenge these factual findings. Therefore, the Appellate Court affirmed judgment.

Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

Whether advancing or defending a motion to modify custody or visitation, a parent is best served by consulting with an experienced family law practitioner. Should you have questions regarding matrimonial matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.