Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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The Appellate Court erred in concluding that, under Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-86(a), in the absence of a finding of fraud, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to modify the property distribution orders in a prior judgment dissolving Plaintiff’s marriage to Defendant. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the trial court, which modified its previous property distribution orders, ruling that, in the absence of a finding or concession of fraud, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to open the dissolution judgment at least as to the division of the parties’ marital assets, despite the parties’ agreement to permit the trial court to do so. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the parties submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court by agreement, and in light of that agreement, the trial court acted within its authority under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-212(a) in opening the dissolution judgment. View "Reinke v. Sing" on Justia Law

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At issue was the relationship between Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-655(b) and (d) in determining whether a spousal support order previously rendered by the probate court was binding on the Commission of Social Services when calculating the allowance that may be diverted to the support of the community spouse of a Medicaid eligible institutionalized person pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1396r-5. The Commissioner decided to set a community spouse allowance for Paul Valliere in the amount of $0 with respect to the Medicaid benefit that paid for the long-term residential care of his wife, Majorie Valliere. The trial court sustained the administrative appeal brought by Plaintiffs, Paul and Ellen Shea, conservatrix and executrix of Majorie’s estate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the probate court did not exceed its authority under section 45a-655 by ordering community spouse support in an amount that exceeded that which the Department of Social Services could order pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1396r-5. View "Valliere v. Commissioner of Social Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting Ruth Cohen’s motion to modify a modification order modifying the alimony provision of the divorce decree dissolving the marriage of Franklin and Ruth Cohen. Franklin moved to modify the alimony provision on the ground that his income had declined significantly. Ruth later moved to modify the modification order on the ground that Franklin’s income had substantially increased. The trial court granted the motion. Franklin appealed, raising four allegations of error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Franklin’s allegations of error were unavailing. View "Cohen v. Cohen" on Justia Law

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Termination of parental rights pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-112(j)(3)(C) may not be based upon predictive harm. Parents appealed from the judgments of the trial court terminating their parental rights as to their two daughters after finding acts of parental commission or omission that denied the children the care necessary for the children’s physical or emotional well-being under section 17a-112(j)(3)(C). On appeal, Parental argued that the trial court improperly terminated their parental rights based on a finding of a predictive harm. The Supreme Court agreed but held that the court properly found that the statute was proven on the basis that one of the daughters had been harmed by Parents’s postremoval acts of parental commission or omission. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. View "In re Egypt E." on Justia Law

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The probate court retains the statutory authority to make findings pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-608n(b) in connection with a petition for special immigrant juvenile status pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J) when the minor child, who is the subject of the petition, reaches the age of eighteen during the pendency of the petition. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court, which affirmed the judgments of the superior court for juvenile matters dismissing Mother’s and Son’s appeals from the decisions of the probate court. The Appellate Court concluded that section 45a-608n does not provide the probate court with authority to make juvenile status findings after the individual’s eighteenth birthday. The Supreme Court held that, on the contrary, the probate court did not lose its authority to make juvenile status findings pursuant to section 45a-608n(b) when Son turned eighteen years old during the pendency of the petition. View "In re Henrry P. B.-P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration but denied relief in this case addressing the mandatory vaccination of a child. In 2017, the Supreme Court held that Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-10(c) did not authorize the Commissioner of Children and Families to vaccinate a child placed in her temporary custody over the objection of that child’s parents. In this motion for reconsideration, the Commissioner advanced, for the first time, arguments concerning the effect of Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-93 and 17a-98. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that it is not proper to use a motion for reconsideration simply as a means for giving the losing party a second chance to try a new argument. View "In Re Elianah T.-T." on Justia Law

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Vaccinations are not “medical treatment” within the meaning of Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-10(c), and therefore, the statute does not authorize the Commissioner of Children and Families to vaccinate a child temporarily placed in her custody over the objection of that child’s parents. The children’s parents in this case entered pleas of nolo contendere as to neglect allegations and agreed to commit their two children temporarily to the care and custody of the Commissioner. The parents, however, objected to vaccination of the children for common childhood diseases in accordance with the Department of Children and Families’ usual practice. The trial court granted the Commissioner permission to vaccinate the children, concluding that the Commissioner had the authority and obligation to vaccinate the children pursuant to section 17a-10c. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute does not authorize the Commissioner to vacate children committed to her temporary custody without parental consent. View "In re Elianah T.-T." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Appellate Court dismissing Mother’s appeal from the judgment of the trial court terminating Mother’s parental rights as to her son and remanded the case with direction to affirm the trial court’s judgment. On appeal, Mother argued (1) the Appellate Court erred in concluding that Mother had failed adequately to brief one of the two independent grounds for reversing the trial court judgment, and that therefore her appeal was moot; and (2) the trial court incorrectly determined that the Department of Children and Families made reasonable efforts to reunify her with her son and that she was unable to benefit from those efforts. The Supreme Court held (1) the Appellate Court erred in dismissing Mother’s appeal as moot; but (2) the evidence supported the trial court’s determination that Respondent was unable to benefit from reunification efforts, and the resolution of this issue constitutes an independent basis for affirming the trial court’s judgment. View "In re Elijah C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Appellate Court dismissing Mother’s appeal from the judgment of the trial court terminating Mother’s parental rights as to her son and remanded the case with direction to affirm the trial court’s judgment. On appeal, Mother argued (1) the Appellate Court erred in concluding that Mother had failed adequately to brief one of the two independent grounds for reversing the trial court judgment, and that therefore her appeal was moot; and (2) the trial court incorrectly determined that the Department of Children and Families made reasonable efforts to reunify her with her son and that she was unable to benefit from those efforts. The Supreme Court held (1) the Appellate Court erred in dismissing Mother’s appeal as moot; but (2) the evidence supported the trial court’s determination that Respondent was unable to benefit from reunification efforts, and the resolution of this issue constitutes an independent basis for affirming the trial court’s judgment. View "In re Elijah C." on Justia Law

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The trial court entered judgment dissolving the marriage of Plaintiff and Defendant. During the pendency of the divorce action, Plaintiff sold shares of stock and exercised certain stock options without first receiving permission from Defendant or the trial court. The trial court found that Plaintiff’s transactions violated orders automatically entered under Practice Book 25-5 but that the violations were not willful. Because the transactions caused a significant loss to the marital estate, the trial court awarded a greater than even distribution of the marital property to Defendant. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s financial orders, concluding that, in an absence of a finding of contempt, the trial court lacked the authority to afford Defendant a remedy for Plaintiff’s violations of the automatic orders. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in considering Plaintiff’s violations of the automatic orders in its division of the marital assets. View "O'Brien v. O'Brien" on Justia Law