June 29, 2023

AC 46100

Father appealed the TPR judgment with respect to his minor child, who had been adjudicated neglected and committed to DCF custody. The court found, inter alia, that DCF had proven by clear and convincing evidence that Father, who was incarcerated at the time of trial, failed to achieve sufficient personal rehabilitation and that TPR was in the best interest of the child. On appeal, Father claimed, inter alia, that the court applied an incorrect legal standard in making its determination that he had failed to rehabilitate by misinterpreting the phrase ‘‘assume a responsible position in the child’s life’’ in § 17a112 (j) (3) (B) (i).

The Court here held that the trial court’s analysis of Father’s failure to achieve sufficient personal rehabilitation demonstrated that the court used the correct legal standard, and that there was sufficient evidence to support its determination that DCF had met its burden.  The court correctly recited the statutory standard in its analysis and detailed Father’s failure to comply with any of the court-ordered specific steps.  It was clear from the decision, as a whole, that the court required that it be foreseeable within a reasonable time that Father be able to assume a responsible position in the child’s life, and the court did not state that it was assessing whether Father could assume full-time responsibility for the child.  Moreover, the court indicated that Father’s motivation while incarcerated to complete programs aimed at addressing his mental health and substance abuse issues had nothing to do with being reunited with his child, but was instead based entirely on obtaining his freedom early.