Officially released March 26, 2019.
LK&M represented the prevailing Father-Appellee.
In short: (1) a third party petition for visitation must be a verified petition and contain sufficient allegations under the statute, and, perhaps most importantly, (2) Buzz Lightyear was twice quoted by the Appellate Court.
The paternal grandfather and third-party intervenor (“Intervenor”) appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion to intervene in a custody action, post-judgment. Judgment as to the underlying custody matter had entered in 2014. Intervenor had previously filed multiple motions to intervene, which had been withdrawn or denied. Mother and Father entered a post-judgment agreement resolving all pending post-judgment motions in 2015. Shortly thereafter, Intervenor filed the instant motion to intervene.
Intervenor’s motion focused almost entirely on allegations regarding the Father. The trial court held a hearing at which Intervenor presented no evidence, only legal argument. The trial court thereafter granted Intervenor’s motion. Father filed a motion to reargue arguing that the trial court had failed to apply the “real and significant harm” standard as required under § 46b-59. The trial court granted reargument and vacated its prior decision based on a custody analysis under § 46b-57.
On appeal, Intervenor argued, among many other things, that the trial court incorrectly construed his motion to intervene as seeking custody pursuant to § 46b-57, arguing that the motion sought visitation under § 46b-59.
The Appellate Court held that even if Intervenor’s motion to intervene were construed as a petition for visitation under § 46b-59, the pleadings did not provide sufficient allegations of a parent-like relationship with the minor child nor that denial of visitation would result in real and significant harm to the child. Thus, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the petition under § 46b-59. The Appellate Court also noted in footnote 6 that the failure of Intervenor to submit a verified petition under the statute alone would have required dismissal of the petition. The Appellate Court further noted that lack of sufficient allegations regarding real and significant harm, and Intervenor conceded in his reply brief that no such harm would occur if he were denied visitation.
The Appellate Court reversed with direction to dismiss (rather than deny) the petition.