July 10, 2023
Father appealed to the Appellate Court from the judgment of the trial court, which granted Mother’s motion for reinstatement of guardianship rights with respect to their minor son. In its decision on Mother’s motion, the trial court stated that parents are entitled to a presumption that reinstatement of guardianship rights is in the best interests of the child. On appeal to the Appellate Court, Father claimed, inter alia, that the presumption to which the trial court referred does not apply in cases between two parents. The Appellate Court agreed with Father but nevertheless affirmed the trial court’s judgment because, after reviewing the record, the court discerned no indication in the record that the trial court had, in fact, applied the presumption. On the granting of certification, Father appealed to the CT Supreme Court, which held here:
1. It did not need to address the issue of whether the presumption that reinstatement of guardianship rights is in the best interests of the child applies in cases such as the present one, in which both parties are the parents of the minor child, insofar as both parties agreed with the Appellate Court’s conclusion that the presumption does not apply in such cases.
2. The Appellate Court correctly concluded that, notwithstanding the trial court’s statement in its decision that parents are entitled to a presumption that reinstatement of guardianship rights is in the best interests of the child, the trial court did not apply the presumption but, rather, applied the proper best interests balancing test.
The Court here had ordered the trial court to issue an articulation to clarify whether it applied the presumption, accepted the trial court’s unequivocal response that it did not apply the presumption, and, after reviewing the trial court’s decision, concluded that the trial court had determined that reinstatement of guardianship was in the best interests of the child by considering and applying the factors set forth in the statute ((Rev. to 2021) § 46b-56 (c)), governing the consideration of the best interests of a child in making or modifying custody orders.