Officially released February 12, 2019.
In short: the trial court must afford parties a meaningful opportunity to present evidence before rending orders affecting their rights.
The background of this appeal was the dismissal of a post-judgment motion to modify visitation. Prior to the instant motion, the trial court had ordered that all access by Father be encompassed in a reunification program. A reunification therapist was appointed by the trial court and a status conference was scheduled.
On the day of the status conference the trial court and parties received a copy of the therapist’s report. The trial court opined that it had reviewed the report and it could nothing further short of physically forcing the daughter to participate. Father indicated that he disputed aspects of the report and wished to present evidence to the trial court, further complaining that he had been given only two hours to review the report. The trial court dismissed the motion for modification, opining that there was nothing that it could order that would not alienate the daughter further.
Father prevailed on appeal on his claim that the trial court violated his due process rights by dismissing his motion without providing an evidentiary hearing. The Appellate Court held that the rights guaranteed Father under the 14th Amendment of the United States constitution and Article 1 § 10 of the Connecticut Constitution were violated. Father was not afforded the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time in a meaningful manner before an order affecting his rights was entered. The judgment of the trial court was reversed, and the case remanded.