In re Coby C.

Connecticut Appellate Court

April 29, 2008

(TPR: failure to rehabilitate) (best interests: required findings) (motion for articulation)

 

Respondent mother appealed termination of parental rights decision contending that the trial court’s finding that she failed to rehabilitate and that termination was in the best interests of her child was clearly erroneous. The mother argued that she had fully complied with the majority of court ordered specific steps and that she had “substantially complied” with the remainder. The appellate court however, mindful of the standard of review, held that the evidence in the record was sufficient to warrant the trial court’s finding and that the trial court’s finding that the respondent “failed to fully comply” with the specific steps is simply a negative statement that means the same as the respondent’s contention that she “substantially complied” with the specific steps. The appellate court noted that “[a]lthough there is no clear directive as to what constitutes ‘‘compliance’’ with court-ordered steps, it is clear that the failure to comply with specific steps typically weighs heavily in termination proceedings.” In re Devon B., 264 Conn. 572, 584, 825 A.2d 127 (2003).

The respondent also claimed that the court failed to make all requisite “best interests” findings under CGS 17a-112(k). Specifically, the mother argued that the court was required to Specifically, she claims that the court’s memorandum of decision contains no express finding regarding the child’s disruption from his pre-adoptive placement (as required by CGS 17a-112(k)(4)). Accordingly, the mother claimed that the trial court’s finding that termination was in the child’s best interest was clearly erroneous. The appellate court agreed with the respondent the respondent “that a court may … be required to make written findings concerning a child’s emotional ties to his pre-adoptive family. In particular, such a finding is required when a child has developed significant emotional ties to his pre-adoptive family and that family has exercised physical care, custody or control of the child for at least one year. See General Statutes § 17a- 112 (k) (4).” However, although the appellate court agreed that no such finding was made in this particular case, the record was inadequate to determine whether such a finding was required. The burden rested with the respondent to move the trial court for an articulation regarding its finding and request a reason for the omission. See Practice Book § 66-5. Accordingly, the appellate court could not find that the trial court’s failure to make a finding regarding the child’s disruption from his pre-adoptive placement rendered the court’s decision regarding the child’s best interests clearly erroneous. .

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