The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Family Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Greenlee, Rebecca


SC20832 - Hepburn v. Brill ("This appeal requires us to consider the jurisdictional effects of the 2012 amendments to the third-party visitation statute, General Statutes § 46b-59 (b); see Public Acts 2012, No. 12-137, § 1; on the judicial gloss articulated in Roth v. Weston, 259 Conn. 202, 234–35, 789 A.2d 431 (2002), which imposed ‘‘high jurisdictional hurdles’’ that individuals petitioning for third-party visitation with a minor child must overcome. The plaintiff, Laurie Hepburn, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing her amended verified petition for third-party visitation (amended petition) with her niece, L, who is the biological child of the defendant, Chandler Brill. On appeal, the plaintiff contends that the trial court improperly treated the defendant’s motion to dismiss as presenting a question of subject matter jurisdiction rather than the court’s statutory authority to act pursuant to § 46b-59. The plaintiff also contends that the trial court incorrectly determined that the amended petition failed to include the specific and good faith allegations necessary to demonstrate that (1) she had a parent-like relationship with L, and (2) L would suffer real and significant harm if visitation were to be denied. We agree with the plaintiff and conclude that, given the Superior Court’s plenary jurisdiction over family relations matters under General Statutes § 46b-1; see, e.g., Sousa v. Sousa, 322 Conn. 757, 776–77, 143 A.3d 578 (2016); and the 2012 amendments to § 46b-59 (b), the trial court incorrectly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction under Roth. We also conclude that the amended petition alleges facts sufficient to warrant an evidentiary hearing under § 46b-59. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s amended petition.")