In re Ellis V.

Connecticut Appellate Court

April 20, 2010

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS. FAILURE TO REHABILITATE. EVIDENCE

In this termination of parental rights case, the appellate court denied the respondent parents’ claim that the trial court erroneously terminated their parental rights on “failure to rehabilitate” grounds, and that the trial court improperly admitted the DCF social study as a “business record.” The court record contained ample information regarding the respondent mother’s ongoing substance abuse and psychological problems. While the respondent father appeared much higher functioning than the mother and had a long history of successful and gainful employment, his failure to acknowledge his wife’s significant problems or prepare a safety plan to address his children’s needs while he was out of the country for months at a time due to work, supported the trial court’s conclusion that neither parent successfully addressed the conditions which led to the children’s removal. The court went so far as to characterize the father’s unconditional loyalty to the mother as “difficult to understand,” particularly when the children were well-bonded with the father and the father could have modified his employment in order to address the Department’s safety concerns. Lastly, the court rejected the claim that the trial court improperly admitted the DCF social study as a business record, noting that the foundation for entry of a business record had been established and the court has wide latitude to admit such evidence.

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