Appellate Court of Connecticut: Transfer of Guardianship

In a case regarding the transfer of guardianship, the Appellate Court of Connecticut considered a Department of Children and Families (Department) petition seeking to transfer guardianship of a minor child to his paternal grandparents (grandparents), over the objection of his father. The Department had a previous history of involvement with this child over the course of approximately three years, commencing with a referral from medical professionals noting unexplained fractures to the child’s arm.

In February 2007, the Department filed petitions for neglect and termination of parental rights and after securing temporary custody of the child, the Department placed him into the grandparents’ custody. In November 2008, the trial court approved the Department’s motion to revoke commitment of the child and to transfer guardianship to the grandparents. The father appealed this decision, saying that it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to find it not in the child’s best interests to return the child to the father.

Custodial Placement

When a court considers custodial placement, it needs to consider what is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court will use its broad discretion in choosing a location that will suitably “foster the child’s interest in sustained growth, development, well-being, and in the continuity and stability of its environment.” The trial court is in the best position to make this determination, and an appellate court will not reverse unless there is a clear showing of an abuse of discretion.

The Case Outcome

In this case, the court promptly found that it was in the best interest of the minor child to transfer guardianship to his grandparents. He was in their custody for an extended period of time, over three years by the time this decision was released, and he adjusted very well to being under their care. The child bonded with both grandparents, was happy to live with them, and even referred to their house as his own. In addition, the grandparents provided for the child’s needs and were “ready, willing and able to do so in the future.”

In stark contrast, the father could not articulate any plans for taking care of the child if awarded custody, let alone any evidence in support of his claim the child should be returned to his custody. As such, the Appellate Court determined that the trial court had ample facts on hand to support the decision that it was in the best interests of the child to remain with his grandparents, to whom guardianship would be transferred.

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