In re Leeanna B.

In re Leeanna B.,

Conn. App.

April 3, 2013

GRANDPARENT VISITATION, CONTEMPT, JURISDICTION

In this procedurally complicated case, the respondent parent appealed from a juvenile court order granting grandparent visitation.  Leeanna had been placed with grandmother as a relative foster placement shortly after birth and remained with her for a year and a half.  Subsequently, Leeanna was returned to her mother under protective supervision with an order for ongoing visitation with grandmother.  During the pendency of the juvenile court matter, the mother commenced a family court case against Leeanna’s father, seeking inter alia, custody.  Grandmother sought to intervene in that matter and was denied.  After the juvenile court matter expired, the mother did not provide ongoing visitation to the grandmother.  Grandmother again sought to intervene in family matter, and brought a motion for contempt, alleging mother’s failure to comply with the juvenile court visitation order.  The court again denied grandmother’s motion to intervene, but then reconsidered her motion for contempt and ordered it transferred to the juvenile court.  The juvenile court found mother was not in contempt due her “reasonable belief” that the juvenile court’s original visitation order did not apply.  The court, however, affirmed its original visitation order and set up a new graduated schedule to reintroduce grandmother into Leeanna’s life.  Mother appealed.  The appellate court vacated the juvenile court’s order, holding that because the family court had denied grandmother’s motion to intervene, grandmother had no standing to bring a contempt motion, and the transfer of the contempt motion was improper.  The court remanded the case back to the juvenile court to transfer the contempt motion back to family court and the appellate court further directed the family court to dismiss the contempt motion.  The appellate court did NOT address the propriety of respondent mother having filed a family court case while the juvenile court case was pending, the validity of any court orders issued by the family court during that time frame, or the underlying validity of the juvenile court’s visitation order.

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