Posts tagged with "residence"

Scenarios That Commonly Lead to School Residency Disputes

In a previous post, I discussed what takes place if a parent’s son or daughter has been deemed ineligible for free school accommodations because the school board has determined he or she did not reside in the district. Undoubtedly the headaches and stress that accompany the hearing and appellate processes are nothing to sneeze at, so it is important for parents to do what they can to understand ahead of time the [common] situations that may call into question their child’s residency.

Scenario #1: The child lives with both parents.

When a child lives with both parents, he or she will go to the school district in which the residence is located. Typically, a school district will request proof of residence, typically in the form of driver’s licenses or utility bills.

Scenario #2: You are a divorced parent.

If you are a divorced parent, your child is eligible to attend school in the district in which either you or your ex-spouse resides. It boils down to where your child in fact resides, which will not be defeated simply because the child divides his time between each parents’ location. Legal custody of the child is not a requirement for eligibility.

Scenario #3: Your child lives with another family member or a friend of the family.

Under Connecticut law, if a child resides with relatives or nonrelatives, “when it is the intention of such relatives or nonrelatives and the children or their parents or guardians that such residence is to be permanent, provided without pay and not for the sole purpose of obtaining school accommodations… shall be entitled to all free school privileges accorded to the resident children of the school district in which they reside.”[1] In this situation, the school district may ask for evidentiary documentation, or even a signed affidavit to pertinent facts, that attest to compliance with statutory requirements.

Permanent residence is established by considering numerous factors, including but not limited to: where most of your child’s possessions and clothing is located; where your child attends church or other religious services; where your child’s immediate family resides; and the town that issued your child’s library card.

You cannot pay a family member or friend in exchange for allowing your child to live with them (thus gaining access to free school accommodations in that district). However, according to guidelines promulgated by the State Department of Education, “pay” does not include support payments pursuant to a court order, claiming the child as an income tax deduction, or maintenance of the child’s health insurance coverage.

Scenario #4: Your house is located on a town boundary line.

In some situations, a family’s single piece of property may span two towns – this does not, however, automatically mean that their child is entitled to attend school in whichever district they choose. Courts will make this determination on the interaction between the house itself and the town line: 1) if the residence is entirely located in one town, this is the only school district for which the child is eligible; or 2) if the town line “cuts through” the residence, the child may attend school in either district.

Scenario #5: Your child is in this country illegally.

The issue of illegal immigration has become a common topic of sparring on the national political stage, but for school districts in Connecticut, a child’s visa status is irrelevant in determining eligibility to attend its schools. According to a longstanding Supreme Court of Connecticut decision, a child is entitled to attend school if he or she is “actually present,” or residing, in the district itself.[2]

Ensuring free school accommodations for your child is important, but even more critical is making sure you do not run afoul of residency requirements. The situations in which confusion may occur are rather commonplace, and should you find your child being denied free school accommodations due to residency issues, it is imperative that you seek the counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable school law practitioner. The attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C., assist clients in Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Westport. If you have any questions regarding eligibility and residency or any other education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


[1] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-253(d).

[2] Yale v. West Middle School, 59 Conn. 489, 491 (1890).

Because Swede Met State Residency Requirements, Trial Court Had Jurisdiction to Adjudicate Her Divorce Action

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Earlier this year, the Appellate Court of Connecticut rejected an appellant husband’s claims that Connecticut courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the dissolution action brought by the appellee wife.

In this case, the parties were married in September 1987 in Stockholm, Sweden. They had three children, including one minor child, and moved to Connecticut in 2002. The wife filed for divorce in February 2009, but withdrew the action in May at the request of the husband, who sought reconciliation. Two months passed before the husband filed a dissolution action in Sweden, at which point the wife and minor child were temporarily living in Sweden for an academic year so the child could become proficient in Swedish. The husband, who now resided in New Jersey, immediately filed a motion to dismiss, citing lack of jurisdiction by the Connecticut courts, but his motion was denied and the court restored the wife’s initial action. In May 2010, the court dissolved the marriage, and the husband appealed, arguing in part that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the dissolution action because the wife failed to meet the State’s residency requirement.

When a party seeks to dissolve their marriage, they must establish residence in this State. General Statutes § 46b-44(a). This statute has been read broadly, and is interpreted to mean that “a party meets the requirements of § 46b-44(a) if the complaint is filed while he or she is a resident of Connecticut.” General Statutes § 46b-44 (c) moves beyond the complaint and focuses on when a court may enter a decree dissolving the marriage. It requires that one of the parties must be a Connecticut resident for at least twelve (12) months before the complaint was filed or the date the court grants the decree. Our courts have interpreted this language to mean “domicile plus substantially continuous residence in Connecticut.” Domicile, in turn, constitutes residence with the intent of making it the party’s home.

In this case, the wife lived in Connecticut since 2002 and initially filed for divorce in February 2009, or six months before she left for Sweden. Therefore, she met the residency requirement for filing the complaint. The husband further argued that his wife abandoned the domicile in Connecticut when she left for Sweden, but the wife countered that she did not intend to remain in Sweden with the minor child. The court credited her testimony as to numerous pertinent facts: in Connecticut, the wife still had her driver’s license, the child’s schooling, their doctors and dentists, and receipt of mail. Therefore, the court concluded that the wife was domiciled in Connecticut for the twelve months prior to when she filed her complaint, and as such the court had subject matter jurisdiction to enter into adjudicate the matter.

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.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut 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. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

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