In re Davonta V.

Connecticut Appellate Court

98 Conn.App. 42, cert granted, 280 Conn. 947, 912 A.2d 480 (Conn. Dec 06, 2006) (NO. 17788)

 

The Supreme Court granted certification for appeal in this case, limited to the following issue: “Did the Appellate Court improperly conclude that the trial court correctly applied the appropriate standard of review in this termination of parental rights case?”

In In re Davonta V., the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to terminate a mother’s parental rights on the grounds that the mother failed to achieve a reasonable degree of rehabilitation and termination of parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Though the mother did not contest the court’s adjudicatory findings, she argued that the trial court erroneously found that termination was in the best interests of her child. She reasoned that the court did not afford adequate weight to the child’s ongoing ties to his biological family and there was no adoption plan in place for the child, then fourteen years old.

The Appellate Court rejected the mother’s contention that the trial court must weigh the child’s ties to his biological family more heavily than other factors that relate to the best interest analysis, namely permanency and closure. The Appellate Court also determined that it was not error for the trial court to reject the opinion of the Guardian ad Litem in favor of the opinions of other witnesses. Finally, it was not error for the trial court to determine that termination was in the best interests of the child despite the fact that the foster parents were not committed to adoption. The trial court could reasonably have concluded that the more important factor was that the child was freed for adoption.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Schaller contended that the trial court did not find by clear and convincing evidence that termination was in the child’s best interest. Judge Schaller reasoned that the termination petition punished the parent and child and that termination could not possibly be in the child’s best interest if it left him without a permanent relationship with anyone. The child adamantly wanted to maintain relationships with his siblings and other maternal relatives. The dissent reasoned that the child was not “liberated” by the termination proceeding and that the “concepts of ‘closure’ and ‘move on’ [had] little relevance to [his future].”

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