MICHAEL FEINBERG v. JOANNE FEINBERG, SC 18414
Judicial District of Hartford
Dissolution of Marriage; Custody; Whether Appellate Court Properly Affirmed Trial Court's Decision Ordering that Minor Child Should Change Schools and Place of Primary Residence. Under the terms of the 1998 judgment dissolving their marriage, the plaintiff and the defendant shared joint custody of their minor son, with the child's primary residence being with the defendant in Canton. In June, 2004, the plaintiff sought to modify the custodial arrangements so that the child would live primarily at his house and attend Simsbury schools. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant repeatedly brought their son to school late and had refused to communicate with him concerning parenting issues. In August, 2005, the trial court granted physical custody of the child to the plaintiff, finding that the child's best interest would be served by primarily residing with the plaintiff and attending Simsbury schools. The court observed that the defendant had failed in a number of respects in her parenting responsibility. It noted that until the 2004-2005 school year, the child had been late to school and to other appointments a number of times because of the defendant. The court determined that the change of primary residency would be in the child's best interest because he would enjoy a more stable home environment and live closer to his maternal grandmother, who cared for him when the defendant was unavailable. On appeal to the Appellate Court (114 Conn. App. 589), the defendant claimed that the trial court, in determining the best interest of the child, improperly relied on outdated evidence concerning tardiness and on factually unsupported findings. The defendant contended that no evidence was offered to support the court's findings that the change to the Simsbury school system would be in the child's best interest or that he would enjoy a more stable home environment with the plaintiff. The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. In reaching its decision, the court stated that it shared the defendant's concern that the trial court appeared to have relied, to some extent, on outdated information, particularly concerning the child's tardiness in the 2003-2004 school year. The court nonetheless concluded that there was adequate current information in the record to support the trial court's determination and that it was not improper for the trial court to have considered the defendant's past history relating to the child's tardiness as a factor in reaching its conclusion. The Supreme Court will now consider whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the trial court's decision.