November 1, 2019

In re Kadon M.
194 Conn. App. 100
October 2019

Respondent mother appealed the trial court’s transfer of guardianship of her son, Kadon, to his paternal grandmother, claiming that the trial court improperly denied the child’s attorney’s oral motion to appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL).

In early 2018, Kadon had been adjudicated neglected, and a period of six months protective supervision with father was ordered.  Three months later, an order of temporary custody was filed after father became incarcerated, and Kadon was ultimately committed to DCF custody.  In December 2018, DCF filed a motion to open and modify the order of protective supervision, to transfer guardianship to his grandmother.  During the trial on the motion to open, the court denied the child’s attorney motion to appoint a GAL; on appeal, mother claimed that denial was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion.

The court here held that the trial court’s decision not to appoint a GAL was not an abuse of its discretion, as the court did not require the input of a GAL to determine the child’s best interests.  As the statute currently stands, the trial court may appoint a GAL when a conflict arises between the child’s wishes or position, and that which counsel believes is in the best interest of the child, but is not required to do so.  Further, the court’s denial did not preclude mother or child’s attorney to present evidence for the court to weigh in conducting its best interests analysis. 

The Appellate Court also found that mother, in her appeal, failed to explain how the court’s failure to appoint a GAL would have affected the trial: the record was already replete with evidence to determine the best interests of Kadon, including evidence that mother had not complied with specific steps, as well as evidence to support the court’s finding that grandmother, who had played a major role in Kadon’s life and was a licensed foster parent, was a suitable and worthy guardian.