A long protracted child custody battle in the Connecticut courts illustrates the complications inherently present in multi-state child custody disputes. In February 2014, the case Parker v. DeFreitas was returned from Florida to the Connecticut court system. This case revolves around a custody dispute between two estranged parents that culminated in the parents’ three-year-old child being kidnapped by her mother and transported from Connecticut to Florida.
The law applied in the Connecticut court, which resulted in custody being granted to the father, illustrates the important dynamics in play during child custody cases. The family law attorneys here at our law firm., believe that the Parker v. DeFreitas is a good example of the effects of parental kidnapping in multi-state child custody cases.
The Case of Parker v. DeFreitas
Parker v. DeFreitas revolves around the kidnapping of a three-year-old child who lived in Florida with her father. The mother Jamera Parker kidnapped the child, brought her to Connecticut from Florida, and kept the child’s whereabouts hidden from the father, William DeFreitas. Parker also refused to allow the father to have visitation of the child for more than a year.
On February 27, 2014, after a year of litigation in Florida, the case was remanded to the State of Connecticut for further litigation. The case had already been in the Connecticut court a year earlier when the Connecticut Superior Court Judge entered an order that custody be turned over to DeFreitas and that all other legal issues in the case be resolved in Florida. Once in the Connecticut court, Parker alleged that she fled Florida due to emotional and verbal abuse committed by DeFreitas. These allegations were found to be not credible and DeFreitas was granted a motion to dismiss the case based on Connecticut’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act.
Child Custody Laws Under the UCCJEA
DeFreitas’ Motion to Dismiss was granted because Parker’s conduct was considered “unjustifiable conduct” as defined under section 46b-1115r of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”). Under the UCCJEA, a child must have been living in the state of Connecticut for six months before child custody actions may be filed. Though the DeFreitas-Parker three-year-old child technically fulfilled the six-month residence requirement, the actions of Parker triggered the unjustifiable conduct clause, which provides Connecticut courts with the ability to nullify the six-month residency requirement if said jurisdiction is gained by unjustified conduct, such as kidnapping.
The custody battle between Parker and DeFreitas is not over. Though DeFreitas was successful in Connecticut, there is a Florida court ruling that the case be returned to Florida, the state of DeFreitas’ residency. Contact the family law attorneys here at Greenberg and Krieger, LLP in Fairfield County, Connecticut for any questions you may have about family law and child custody laws in Connecticut.