In re Nelmarie O.

Connecticut Appellate Court

97 Conn. App. 624 (2006)

September 19, 2006

 

In In re Nelmarie O., the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to terminate a mother’s parental rights on the grounds that the mother failed to provide her children with a safe home environment free of violence and therefore she denied them the “care, guidance or control necessary for [the children’s] well-being.” See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-112(j)(3)(C). The state sought to terminate the mother’s parental rights to her two children after her step-child died from apparent physical abuse perpetrated by the child’s father and encouraged by the appellant-mother. There was no evidence that the appellant physically abused her biological children.

The Appellate Court rejected the mother’s argument that the trial court wrongfully relied on evidence gathered after the filing of the petition for its adjudication. The Court noted that the plain language of Practice Book § 35a-7 limits the consideration of evidence of events that post-date the petition. The Practice Book does not bar judges from considering evidence that post-dates the petition so long as the evidence properly relates to events that preceded the filing of the petition.

The Court also denied the mother’s claim that there was insufficient evidence that she failed to provide for the emotional well-being of her biological children. The Court held that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-112 does not require that “the children who are the subjects of the termination petition be abused physically.” Quoting In re Sean H., 24 Conn. App. 135, 144 (1991). The trial court could reasonably have found that termination was warranted given the atmosphere of violence in the home and the mother’s complicity with the violence perpetrated against her step-son.

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