Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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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

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The trial court properly denied Mother’s motion for visitation with the minor child on the ground that North Carolina was the more appropriate forum to decide the issues raised in the motion. Mother filed a motion to modify the trial court’s orders of visitation after a neglect proceeding. The trial court ruled that a coordinate court in North Carolina was as capable of deciding the nature and extent of Mother’s contact with the child where the state of North Carolina had exercised jurisdiction in this matter and both Father and the child resided in North Carolina. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly determined that it did not have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over Mother’s motion for visitation; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that North Carolina was a more convenient forum for addressing Mother’s motion for visitation; and (3) Mother did not preserve her claim that the trial court should have conducted an evidentiary hearing before declining to exercise jurisdiction over her motion, and Mother was not entitled to review of her constitutional claim under State v. Golding, 567 A.2d 823 (1989). View "In re Natalie S." on Justia Law

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The Department of Children and Families was not required to continue providing reunification efforts to Mother in this case despite the trial court’s grant of custody and guardianship to Father. The trial court adjudicated the minor child neglected and granted temporary custody and guardianship to Father. On appeal, the Appellate Court concluded that the trial court did not err in failing to order the department to make additional reunification efforts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that continuing reunification efforts for Mother were not required because temporary custody and guardianship had been placed with Father. View "In re Natalie S." on Justia Law

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Melissa was the biological mother of Santiago, the minor child at issue in this case. Santiago was in the care of Maria from his birth until he was three years old. At that time, the Commissioner of Children and Families filed a motion for an order of temporary custody of Santiago on the basis of neglect. The trial court adjudicated Santiago neglected on the basis of abandonment by his biological parents and ordered him committed to the custody of the Commissioner. Thereafter, the Department of Children and Families filed a motion to terminate Melissa’s parental rights. Maria filed an amended motion to intervene as of right and permissively. The trial court denied the motion to intervene. Maria appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that Maria failed to plead a colorable claim of intervention as of right, and therefore, the trial court’s denial of her motion to intervene as of right was not a final judgment for purposes of this appeal. View "In re Santiago G." on Justia Law

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In 2011, the trial court dissolved the marriage of Father and Mother. The judgment incorporated the parties’ separation agreement, which incorporated a parenting plan in which the parties agreed to share custody of the children. The agreement also provided for unallocated alimony and child support. In 2012, the parties entered into a postjudgment parenting plan pursuant to which the children would primarily reside with Father. Father subsequently filed a motion for modification of child support. Thereafter, without permission from the court, Father unilaterally decreased his unallocated support payments to Mother. In response, Mother filed a motion for contempt, which the trial court denied. The court granted Father’s postjudgment motion for modification of child support and also reduced Father's alimony payments. The Appellate Court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Appellate Court erred in concluding that the trial court improperly denied Mother’s motion for contempt; and (2) the Appellate Court did not err in concluding that the trial court improperly granted Husband’s motion for modification of unallocated alimony and child support. View "Gabriel v. Gabriel" on Justia Law

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The Commissioner of Children and Families filed a petition for termination of Mother’s parental rights to her minor child. The trial court terminated Mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Mother failed to demonstrate that her right to procedural due process was violated by the trial court’s consideration of the prior voluntarily termination of Mother’s parental rights with respect to another child when Mother was a minor; and (2) the trial court did not err in finding that the Department of Children and Families had made reasonable efforts toward reunification, that Mother was unable or unwilling to benefit from those reasonable efforts, and that Mother had failed to rehabilitate. View "In re Jayce O." on Justia Law

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The trial court terminated the parental rights of Father to his child. The trial court filed the memorandum of decision terminating Father’s parental rights approximately two weeks after publication of the Supreme Court’s decision in In re Yasiel R. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court’s failure to canvass Father prior to the commencement of the trial in accordance with the rule promulgated pursuant to the exercise of the Supreme Court’s supervisory authority in In re Yasiel R. applies retroactively to the present case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that applying the canvass rule announced in In re Yasiel R. to the instant case would exceed the scope of the exercise of the Court’s supervisory authority in that case. View "In re Daniel N." on Justia Law

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Incident to the dissolution of his marriage to Plaintiff, Defendant was ordered to pay lump sum alimony in the amount of $7.5 million and attorney’s fees in the amount of $140,000. Defendant appealed, arguing that the lump sum alimony award constituted a functional property distribution in violation of the parties’ prenuptial agreement and that the award of attorney’s fees was an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the lump sum alimony award did not constitute a functional property distribution in contravention of the parties’ agreement; and (2) the trial court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to Plaintiff because Plaintiff received ample liquid funds as a result of the judgment. View "Hornung v. Hornung" on Justia Law

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Before they were married, Wife and Husband entered a prenuptial agreement. Approximately ten years later, Wife brought a marital dissolution action against Husband. In accordance with an agreement to arbitrate in the prenuptial agreement, the trial court ordered the parties to proceed to arbitration on the matter of the sale of the parties’ residence. The arbitrator issued a partial award and then a final award. The trial court confirmed the partial award and confirmed in part, modified in part, and vacated in part the final arbitration award. Defendant appealed. The trial court subsequently entered judgment dissolving the marriage, allocating property, interpreting the prenuptial agreement, and deciding all pending motions. Defendant filed a second appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly applied Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-66(c) to the agreement to arbitrate contained within the prenuptial agreement; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion for leave to file an amended answer and cross complaint; and (3) the arbitrator did not exceed her authority by issuing orders in contravention of the express terms of the prenuptial agreement. View "LaFrance v. Lodmell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appeals, upon the court's grant of his petition for certification, from the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court denying a motion of defendant to vacate a prior judgment by Judge Resha which "modified, by stipulation, a portion of the judgment of dissolution that ordered that the plaintiff’s pension benefits be divided equally between the parties." The court concluded that: (1) given a conflict in the case law on point and the Superior Court’s plenary jurisdiction over family relations matters, the Appellate Court improperly determined that it was ‘"entirely obvious" that Judge Resha lacked subject matter jurisdiction to modify the property distribution in the judgment of dissolution; and (2) considerations of finality of judgments, as set forth in section 12 of the Restatement (Second) of Judgments, do not support permitting defendant to mount a collateral attack on the modified judgment. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court. View "Sousa v. Sousa" on Justia Law