In Re: Brianna L.
As long as there is clear and convincing evidence that a statutory ground for termination of parental rights exists, C.G.S. §17a-112(a) provides the commissioner of children and families with the authority to petition the court for the termination of parental rights with respect to any child who is committed to her care as a result of the child previously having been adjudicated as uncared for or neglected. The respondent mother of three children including Brianna L., had a history with the Department of Children and Families since 2002 predicated on the respondent's medication abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence. Following a domestic violence incident and continued contact, the commissioner filed a motion for an order of temporary custody and neglect petition. The court granted the motion, later sustained it and, in Oct. 2010, adjudicated the children neglected. In June 2011, the commissioner petitioned to terminate the parental rights of the respondent and Brianna's biological father to Brianna alleging a prior adjudication of neglect and failure to achieve statutory rehabilitation under C.G.S. §17a-112(j)(3)(B). Following trial, the court granted the petition. The respondent mother appealed raising multiple claims. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The respondent claimed, inter alia, that the court improperly granted the petition because the petitioner did not follow the laws and protocols for filing such petitions. She contended that the petition was prematurely filed because Brianna was in the petitioner's care and custody for far less than the 15 to 22 months of custody mandated in the petitioner's policy manual and that termination was inappropriate because Brianna was over the age of seven. These arguments were found based on a misunderstanding of the cited policy and applicable law. There is no requirement in C.G.S. §17a-112 or in any other relevant statute, that a child previously adjudicated neglected must be in the commissioner's custody for any specific period before such a petition may be filed. There is no age group requirement within which a minor child must fall. Because Brianna previously was adjudicated neglected and remained in the petitioner's custody, the petitioner was under no obligation to wait a specified period before petitioning to terminate parental rights, assuming the petitioner could otherwise show a proper ground for termination and that termination was in the child's best interest.