In Re Iliana M.

In re Iliana M., 134 Conn. App. 382, *** A.3d *** (2012)

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”)

The issue in this case was whether the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction to grant an Order of Temporary Custody pertaining to a child who was born in a Massachusetts hospital to parents who reside in Connecticut.  Connecticut DCF had a long history with the respondent mother, having previously removed three children her custody.  The respondent allegedly went to Massachusetts to give birth to Iliana upon the advice of her lawyer and for the sole purpose of avoiding losing custody of the baby to DCF.   The Massachusetts hospital alerted the Massachusetts child protection agency that it had concerns about the mother, and that agency contacted Connecticut DCF.  DCF obtained an order of temporary custody (OTC) from a Connecticut trial court, went to the hospital and brought the child back to Connecticut, and placed her in foster care.

Two months later, the trial court granted the respondent mother’s motion to dismiss the OTC on the basis that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to grant the OTC.  The court reasoned that per  General Statutes § 46b-121 (a) (1), the civil session of juvenile matters includes proceeding concerning certain children who are “within this state.”  Because the baby was not, and had never been, in Connecticut when the OTC was obtained, the court decided that it was not properly issued, and vacated it.  DCF then filed an application for, and successfully obtained a second OTC, and the respondents again filed a motion to dismiss.  This time, however, the trial court found that Connecticut was the home state and residence of the respondents, and that because the child was now physically in the state, the action met the requirements of § 46b-121 (a) (1).

On appeal, the respondents argued that the trial court improperly denied their motion to dismiss the second OTC on the ground that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action pursuant to General Statues § 46b-115k, a provision of the Connecticut version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).  The Appellate Court noted that it “[agrees] with the decisions of the Superior Court that have set forth the goals of the UCCJEA.”  In re Iliana M., supra, 134 Conn. App. 390.  The court then determined that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over the OTC pursuant to § 46b-115k (a) (3).  This statute gives the Superior Court exclusive jurisdiction over an initial child custody determinations in certain specific circumstances, including where, as in the present case, a court in another state does not have jurisdiction, and the child and at least one parent has a significant connection with this state, and substantial evidence is available in this state as to the child’s care, protection and relationships.  Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

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