Skip to navigation


Chris Dec. 18, 2021

This summer I tried a probate appeal TPR for one of my clients. In termination of parental rights cases in juvenile courts, it is almost always the state, through DCF, that files a petition against parents for a child in DCF care. Parents and other relatives have to file petitions in probate court in order to terminate another parent's parental rights. The decision in probate court can then be appealed to the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters for the district in which the probate court sits. A probate appeal is often a "trial de novo," which essentially means that it starts over again.

The custodial parent of my client's child tried to terminate client's parental rights in probate court, alleging among other things, no onging parent-child relationship and abandonment. The custodial parent however, repeatedly brushed of my client's attempts to see or speak to the child for a few years. We argued a variation of the "unclean hands" doctrine. The TPR statute contains this concept, in that it requires a court to consider the actions of the other parent or any other person who could have interfered with the parent's relationship with the child. Case law also supports that point. The judge agreed with us and denied the appeal.