CHAPTER 815
COURT PROCEEDINGS IN FAMILY RELATIONS MATTERS

Table of Contents

Sec. 46b-1. (Formerly Sec. 51-330). Family relations matters defined.
Sec. 46b-2. (Formerly Sec. 51-331). Family matters, both civil and criminal, placed on family docket first.
Sec. 46b-3. (Formerly Sec. 51-332). Domestic relations officers and other employees.
Sec. 46b-4. (Formerly Sec. 51-333). Judge may retain jurisdiction until final disposition.
Sec. 46b-5. (Formerly Sec. 51-336). Transfer of family relations matters to and from general docket.
Sec. 46b-6. (Formerly Sec. 51-337). Investigations.
Sec. 46b-7. (Formerly Sec. 51-338). Report of investigation to be filed.
Sec. 46b-8. (Formerly Sec. 51-341). Motion for modification of support order combined with motion for contempt.
Sec. 46b-9. (Formerly Sec. 51-340). Hearing by referee in action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment.
Sec. 46b-10. (Formerly Sec. 51-339). Attempt at reconciliation in action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment.
Sec. 46b-11. (Formerly Sec. 51-335). Closed hearings and records.
Secs. 46b-12 to 46b-14.

      Sec. 46b-1. (Formerly Sec. 51-330). Family relations matters defined. Matters within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court deemed to be family relations matters shall be matters affecting or involving: (1) Dissolution of marriage, contested and uncontested, except dissolution upon conviction of crime as provided in section 46b-47; (2) legal separation; (3) annulment of marriage; (4) alimony, support, custody and change of name incident to dissolution of marriage, legal separation and annulment; (5) actions brought under section 46b-15; (6) complaints for change of name; (7) civil support obligations; (8) habeas corpus and other proceedings to determine the custody and visitation of children; (9) habeas corpus brought by or on behalf of any mentally ill person except a person charged with a criminal offense; (10) appointment of a commission to inquire whether a person is wrongfully confined as provided by section 17a-523; (11) juvenile matters as provided in section 46b-121; (12) all rights and remedies provided for in chapter 815j; (13) the establishing of paternity; (14) appeals from probate concerning: (A) Adoption or termination of parental rights; (B) appointment and removal of guardians; (C) custody of a minor child; (D) appointment and removal of conservators; (E) orders for custody of any child; and (F) orders of commitment of persons to public and private institutions and to other appropriate facilities as provided by statute; (15) actions related to prenuptial and separation agreements and to matrimonial decrees of a foreign jurisdiction; (16) custody proceeding brought under the provisions of chapter 815p; and (17) all such other matters within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court concerning children or family relations as may be determined by the judges of said court.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 3; 1967, P.A. 183, S. 3; P.A. 73-373, S. 36; P.A. 76-436, S. 89, 681; P.A. 77-336, S. 2; 77-452, S. 15, 72; 77-576, S. 37, 65; P.A. 78-318, S. 26; 78-379, S. 13, 27; P.A. 86-337, S. 9; P.A. 03-19, S. 101.)

      History: 1967 act removed jurisdiction of commitments of mentally ill persons; P.A. 73-373 substituted "dissolution of marriage" for "divorce" where appearing; P.A. 76-436 restated provisions generally, in Subdiv. (6) included criminal actions, in Subdiv. (7) added reference to visitation, inserted new Subdivs. (10) to (14), renumbering remaining Subdivs. accordingly, in Subdiv. (15) included termination of penal rights and rephrased clause re orders of commitment, deleted former Subdiv. re appeals from judgment or order of juvenile court, inserted new Subdivs. (16) and (17) and renumbered former Subdiv. (12), effective July 1, 1978; P.A. 77-336 inserted new Subdiv. (5) re actions brought under Sec. 46b-38, renumbering accordingly; P.A. 77-452 deleted former Subdiv. (12) re judicial consent to marriage of a minor, renumbering accordingly and making minor changes in wording elsewhere; P.A. 77-576 deleted former Subsec. (10) re termination of parental rights with regard to children committed to state agency and contested termination of parental rights transferred to probate court and included jurisdictional power re matrimonial decrees of foreign jurisdiction; P.A. 78-318 included jurisdiction over custody proceedings under Ch. 815; P.A. 78-379 deleted reference to criminal actions in Subdiv. (7) and deleted former Subdiv. (16) re offenses committed by minor children against their parents; Sec. 51-182c temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-330 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-1 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182c; P.A. 86-337 substituted reference to Sec. 46b-15 for reference to Sec. 46b-38; P.A. 03-19 made technical changes, effective May 12, 2003.

      See Sec. 45a-99 re concurrent jurisdiction of Probate Court in matters concerning change of name.

      See Secs. 45a-736, 45a-737 re change of name of adopted persons.

      See Sec. 46b-41 re definition of "complaint".

      See Sec. 46b-63 re jurisdiction of Superior Court to restore former wife's birth name or former name following decree dissolving marriage.

      See Sec. 52-11 re jurisdiction of Superior Court concerning complaints for change of name.


      Cited. 185 C. 502.

      Cited. 5 CA 95. Cited. 41 CA 163.

      Superior Court does have jurisdiction to hear an appeal from a Probate Court change of name proceeding. 48 CS 647. When the question presented is whether name of a minor child should be changed, the court, in line with its universal duty to protect the interests of minors, must take into consideration whether the change of name will promote the child's best welfare. Id.

      Subdiv. (4):

      Cited. 17 CA 627.

      Subdiv. (6):

      Cited. 17 CA 627.

      Subdiv. (8):

      Cited. 234 C. 51.

      Cited. 8 CA 30.

      Does not confer parents, acting as grandparents, whose son's parental rights have been terminated, the authorization to bring a habeas corpus petition to seek custody of a grandchild. 47 CS 273.

      Subdiv. (14):

      Subpara. (c) cited. 247 C. 724.

      Subdiv. (15):

      Cited. 39 CS 66.

      Subdiv. (17):

      Cannot be used as basis for granting jurisdiction to Superior Court on matters involving foreign civil unions because the text itself requires that children be involved, there is no rule of court that would define foreign civil unions as a family matter, the legislative history of this section indicates that its intent was to provide for a court merger, and legislature, by enacting Secs. 45a-727b and 46a-81r, has expressly stated that state does not endorse or authorize civil unions or any other relationship between unmarried persons. 71 CA 372.


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      Sec. 46b-2. (Formerly Sec. 51-331). Family matters, both civil and criminal, placed on family docket first. All proceedings involving a family relations matter shall be first placed on the family relations docket of the Superior Court; and except for juvenile matters which are provided for in section 46b-133, the judge before whom such proceeding is brought, may transfer such matter to the criminal or civil docket of said court if he deems that such docket is more suitable for the disposition of the case. Any case so entered or transferred to either docket shall be proceeded upon as are other cases of a like nature standing on such docket.

      (P.A. 76-436, S. 89a, 681.)

      History: Sec. 51-331 transferred to Sec. 46b-2 in 1979.

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      Sec. 46b-3. (Formerly Sec. 51-332). Domestic relations officers and other employees. (a) The judges of the Superior Court shall appoint such domestic relations officers and other personnel as they deem necessary for the proper operation of the family relations sessions. The salaries and duties of such officers shall be determined by the judges in accordance with the compensation plan established under section 51-12. For the purposes of any investigation or pretrial conference the judge presiding at any family relations session may employ the services of any probation officer, including those under the direction of the Office of Adult Probation, physician, psychologist, psychiatrist or family counselor. Each person serving on July 1, 1978, in the Court of Common Pleas appointed under the provisions of section 51-156c, revised to 1975, shall continue to serve in the Superior Court. In no event shall the compensation of such person be affected solely as a result of the transfer of jurisdiction provided in section 51-164s. The Chief Court Administrator may assign, reassign and modify the assignments of such family relations personnel as he deems necessary to be in the best interest of the disposition of family relations matters. Such family relations personnel shall also be available to assist the courts of probate in cases involving judicial consent to marriage of a minor.

      (b) Family relations personnel are authorized to collect fees in accordance with the provisions of section 52-259.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 5; P.A. 76-436, S. 10a, 92, 681; P.A. 78-280, S. 93, 127; P.A. 79-585, S. 7, 15; Nov. Sp. Sess. P.A. 81-6, S. 3, 4; P.A. 82-325, S. 5-7.)

      History: P.A. 76-436 added reference to compensation plan under Sec. 51-12 and provisions re effect of transfer of common pleas court personnel to superior courts on compensation and re assignment and reassignment decisions of chief court administrator, effective July 1, 1978; P.A. 78-280 deleted requirement that persons reassigned shall finish term of appointment at compensation received while serving in common pleas court; P.A. 79-585 replaced commission on adult probation with office of adult probation; Sec. 51-182e temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-332 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-3 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182e; Nov. Sp. Sess. P.A. 81-6 added Subsec. (b) authorizing family relations personnel to collect fees under Secs. 17-31i and 52-259; P.A. 82-325 amended Subsec. (b) by deleting the authorization to collect fees in accordance with the provisions of "section 17-31i."

      See Sec. 51-1d re transfer of duties of Family Division to Court Support Services Division.

      There is no authority for domestic relations officers to resolve differences by rendering a decision concerning property distribution. 180 C. 528. Cited. 224 C. 776.

      Cited. 2 CA 472. Cited. 25 CA 693. Nothing in section and Sec. 46b-6 authorizes court to order parties in a custody battle to undergo postjudgment psychiatric therapy or other counseling since those provisions apply to pending family matters and trial court improperly ordered a postjudgment psychological evaluation and postjudgment counseling. 61 CA 175.


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      Sec. 46b-4. (Formerly Sec. 51-333). Judge may retain jurisdiction until final disposition. Any judge who hears a family relations matter may retain jurisdiction thereof until its final disposition if, in his opinion, the ends of justice require.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 6; P.A. 78-280, S. 1, 94, 127.)

      History: P.A. 78-280 deleted provision which had allowed judge holding regular session to transfer actions in family relations matters to the regular session for more speedy hearing; Sec. 51-182f temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-333 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-4 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182f.

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      Sec. 46b-5. (Formerly Sec. 51-336). Transfer of family relations matters to and from general docket. If the Chief Court Administrator deems it necessary for the proper dispatch of business, he may direct that, for such period as he may fix, any portion of the matters claimed for a family relations docket, except appeals be entered upon the general docket of the court, or transferred from the family relations docket to the general docket, and may likewise direct that any such cases entered on or transferred to the general docket shall be transferred to the family relations docket. Any case so entered or transferred to either docket shall be proceeded with as are other cases of a like nature standing upon that docket.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 9; 1967, P.A. 656, S. 33; 1971, P.A. 870, S. 14; P.A. 74-183, S. 280, 291; P.A. 76-436, S. 10a, 94, 681.)

      History: 1967 act substituted chief court administrator for chief justice; 1971 act added Subsecs. (b) and (c) re transfer of actions; P.A. 74-183 repealed provisions added by 1971 act; P.A. 76-436 deleted reference to appeals from juvenile court and to chief judge, effective July 1, 1978; Sec. 51-182i was temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-336 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-5 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182i.

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      Sec. 46b-6. (Formerly Sec. 51-337). Investigations. In any pending family relations matter the court or any judge may cause an investigation to be made with respect to any circumstance of the matter which may be helpful or material or relevant to a proper disposition of the case. Such investigation may include an examination of the parentage and surroundings of any child, his age, habits and history, inquiry into the home conditions, habits and character of his parents or guardians and evaluation of his mental or physical condition. In any action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment of marriage such investigation may include an examination into the age, habits and history of the parties, the causes of marital discord and the financial ability of the parties to furnish support to either spouse or any dependent child.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 10; P.A. 73-373, S. 37; P.A. 76-436, S. 95, 681.)

      History: P.A. 73-373 substituted "dissolution of marriage" for "divorce"; P.A. 76-436 substituted "pending family relations matter" for "matter pending in a family relations session", effective July 1, 1978; Sec. 51-182j temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-337 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-6 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182j.

      Decision of a court whether to order an investigation and report is discretionary. 180 C. 533. Cited. 181 C. 622. Cited. 212 C. 63. Cited. 224 C. 776.

      "Evaluation" of a physical or mental condition is not equivalent to "treatment" of such a condition. 2 CA 472. Cited. 11 CA 189. Cited. 23 CA 509. Cited. 25 CA 693. Nothing in section and Sec. 46b-3 authorizes court to order parties in a custody battle to undergo postjudgment psychiatric therapy or other counseling since those provisions apply to pending family matters and trial court improperly ordered a postjudgment psychological evaluation and postjudgment counseling. 61 CA 175.


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      Sec. 46b-7. (Formerly Sec. 51-338). Report of investigation to be filed. Whenever, in any family relations matter, including appeals from the Superior Court, an investigation has been ordered, the case shall not be disposed of until the report has been filed as hereinafter provided, and counsel and the parties have had a reasonable opportunity to examine it prior to the time the case is to be heard. Any report of an investigation shall be made in quadruplicate and shall be filed with the clerk and mailed to counsel of record.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 11; P.A. 76-436, S. 96, 681; P.A. 78-280, S. 96, 127; P.A. 79-431, S. 1.)

      History: P.A. 76-436 deleted reference to appeals from juvenile court and made minor change in wording, effective July 1, 1978; P.A. 78-280 substituted "family relations matter" for "family relations session"; P.A. 79-431 specifically included appeals from superior court, required that parties to case have reasonable opportunity to examine report, required that report be made in quadruplicate rather than in duplicate and required that it be mailed to counsel of record; Sec. 51-182k temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-338 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-7 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182k.

      Cited. 212 C. 63.

      Cited. 25 CA 262.


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      Sec. 46b-8. (Formerly Sec. 51-341). Motion for modification of support order combined with motion for contempt. Whenever a motion for modification of an order for support and alimony is made to the superior court by a moving party against whom a motion for contempt for noncompliance with such order is pending, the court shall accept such motion and hear both motions concurrently.

      (P.A. 73-308.)

      History: Provisions originally codified as Sec. 51-182p were temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-341 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-8 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182p.

      Annotation to former section 51-182p:

      Cited. 173 C. 397.

      Annotations to present section:

      Cited. 191 C. 309. Cited. 198 C. 479. Cited. 199 C. 550. Cited. 224 C. 905. Cited. 228 C. 630.

      Cited. 13 CA 330. Cited. 31 CA 788. Section is directory; therefore right of trial court to defer action on motion for modification under section is discretionary. 39 CA 669.

      Subsec. (b):

      Cited. 12 CA 113.


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      Sec. 46b-9. (Formerly Sec. 51-340). Hearing by referee in action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment. In any action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment the court may refer the case or any matter in which the issues have been closed to a state referee who shall have been a judge of the referring court or who shall have been a judge of the Court of Common Pleas; provided the referring court shall retain jurisdiction to hear and decide any pendente lite or contempt matters until such time as the referee hears and decides the case or matter. The Chief Court Administrator, or his designee, may authorize the presiding judge to refer to such state referee any action for the dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment which is on the family relations uncontested assignment list. Such uncontested assignment list matters shall be heard on the date on which they are assigned to be heard on the uncontested assignment list, and if they are not heard on such date the reference shall be automatically revoked. Any hearing by such referee shall be conducted as provided in section 52-434.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 13; P.A. 74-183, S. 285, 291; P.A. 75-261; 75-319, S. 1, 2; P.A. 78-379, S. 14, 27.)

      History: P.A. 74-183 specified that referee "shall have been a judge of the referring court"; P.A. 75-261 substituted "dissolution of marriage" for "divorce", allowed referee to have been a common pleas court judge and deleted provision specifying that referee's duty is "to hear and report to the court the facts"; P.A. 75-319 added proviso re retention of jurisdiction by referring court; P.A. 78-379 added provisions re referral and hearing of matters on uncontested assignment list; Sec. 51-182m temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-340 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-9 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182m.

      The expression in statute of an alternative method for referring dissolution actions to a referee explicitly does away with written consent as precondition to exercise of jurisdiction by referee. 181 C. 225. Cited. 186 C. 211; Id., 773.

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      Sec. 46b-10. (Formerly Sec. 51-339). Attempt at reconciliation in action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment. In any action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment, at any time before final judgment any judge may require that either or both parties appear before any judge, referee or other disinterested person for the purpose of attempting a reconciliation or adjustment of differences between the parties. Any person designated under the provisions of this section may be a family relations counselor or family relations caseworker and such person shall have all the powers provided in chapter 910. Such person shall report to the court only the fact of whether or not reconciliation can be effected and shall not divulge information given to him by the parties except with the consent of all parties.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 12; P.A. 83-295, S. 13.)

      History: Provisions originally designated as Sec. 51-182l were temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-339 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-10 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182l; P.A. 83-295 replaced "divorce" with "dissolution of marriage" and "domestic relations officer or a person skilled in problems of family relations" with "family relations counselor or family relations caseworker".

      See Sec. 46b-53 re conciliation procedures.

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      Sec. 46b-11. (Formerly Sec. 51-335). Closed hearings and records. Any case which is a family relations matter may be heard in chambers or, if a jury case, in a courtroom from which the public and press have been excluded, if the judge hearing the case determines that the welfare of any children involved or the nature of the case so requires. The records and other papers in any family relations matter may be ordered by the court to be kept confidential and not to be open to inspection except upon order of the court or judge thereof for cause shown.

      (1959, P.A. 531, S. 8; P.A. 76-436, S. 93, 681; P.A. 78-280, S. 95, 127.)

      History: P.A. 76-436 applied provisions specifically to family relations matters, deleted references to appeals from juvenile court and added exception, effective July 1, 1978; P.A. 78-280 referred to cases which are family relations matters rather than to cases on docket of family relations sessions; Sec. 51-182h temporarily renumbered as Sec. 51-335 and ultimately transferred to Sec. 46b-11 in 1979, see note to Sec. 51-182h.

      See Sec. 46b-49 re private hearings.

      See Sec. 46b-122 re exclusion from hearing room of persons whose presence is unnecessary in actions concerning juvenile matters.


      Cited. 2 CA 132; Id., 472.

      Cited. 36 CS 352. Protecting stability of leading Fortune 500 corporation's shares of stock outweighed public's and media's right to access files and hearings in divorce proceedings of high ranking executive of such corporation. 45 CS 208.


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      Secs. 46b-12 to 46b-14. Reserved for future use.

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