Antedomenico v. Antedomenico

Decision Date05 July 1955
Citation142 Conn. 558,115 A.2d 659
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesJohn ANTEDOMENICO v. Helen M. ANTEDOMENICO. Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut

John Keogh, Jr., Norwalk, with whom, on the brief, were Alfred W. Burkhart and Donald J. Irwin, Norwalk, for the appellant (plaintiff).

William R. Curtis, Norwalk, for the appellee (defendant).

Before BALDWIN, O'SULLIVAN, WYNNE and DALY, JJ., and PHILLIPS, Superior Court Judge.

BALDWIN, Justice.

The plaintiff has appealed from the denial of his motion to change the order of custody of his minor son, John, rendered in a decree granting him a divorce from the child's mother. General Statutes §§ 7337, 7339. 1 He has assigned error in the facts found, in the court's conclusions, and in a ruling on evidence. No corrections in the finding which could affect the court's decision are warranted. The facts, briefly stated, follow: The plaintiff and the defendant, whose maiden name was Helen Moriarty, were married in Norwalk in August, 1941. A son, John, was born to them in September, 1942. They lived together until the plaintiff entered the army in February, 1943. At that time they put their household effects in storage, and the defendant and their son went to live with her parents in Norwalk. During the absence of the plaintiff, the affection of his wife toward him chilled. She was indifferent to her maternal obligation to their son. In December, 1944, she wrote to the plaintiff and told him of her feelings. Thereafter, she maintained a separate abode and left the boy to the care of his grandparents. The plaintiff was honorably discharged from the army in December, 1945. Upon returning home, he made fruitless efforts for a reconciliation. In February, 1946, he instituted an action for divorce on the ground of adultery. Upon an amended complaint, charging desertion, he was granted a decree in December, 1951. The custody of the child was awarded to the maternal grandparents. At this time the plaintiff was living with a married sister in Norwalk where there were three adults and five children in the household.

On October 17, 1953, the plaintiff married a widow with three daughters. He is steadily employed, working from 8:30 in the morning until 4:45 in the afternoon for good wages. He owns a well-located and comfortable home in New Canaan where he, his wife, and two of her daughters, aged twelve and sixteen, live. If his son, John, went there, he would have his own room. The plaintiff's wife works as a waitress from 11 a. m. to 3 p. m. and from 6 to 9:30 p. m., daily, at a nearby restaurant; she also earns good pay. Mrs. Moriarty, the grandmother into whose custody John was placed in December, 1951, is now a widow aged sixty-four. Living with her, besides John, are her daughter Jean and the defendant, who is steadily employed. John has his own bedroom, attends school and church regularly, and has a number of playmates in the neighborhood. He has never known any other home. Mrs. Moriarty is a good housewife, is always at home, and has taken complete charge of John's upbringing. The plaintiff has never been denied the opportunity to see his son, but his visits have been irregular. Until the institution of this proceeding, he made no effort to obtain the custody of John or to provide a home for him. The plaintiff has taken little interest in the boy's progress in school or his religious training. He has, however, contributed $10 a week regularly to John's support and has brought him presents. John receives adequate discipline and abundant care and affection from his grandmother. He is a sensitive and emotional child, and a change in his custody would place him in radically different surroundings. On these basic facts, the court concluded that John's welfare required that the order of custody not be changed.

The award of the custody of a minor child is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court. Scott v. Furrow, 141 Conn. 113, 120, 104 A.2d 224; Morrill v. Morrill, 83 Conn. 479, 489, 77 A. 1. We review the award to determine whether that discretion has been abused and whether the trial court, in the exercise of its discretion, has overlooked or misapplied some established principle of pertinent law. Anderson v. Anderson, 122 Conn. 600, 603, 191 A. 534; Morrill v. Morrill, supra. The plaintiff offers puissant arguments in support of his motion. He affirms that he is the natural father of the child, that not he, but the defendant, is responsible for the collapse of their marriage which brought about the original award of John's custody to the grandparents, that his, the plaintiff's, circumstances of living have not, until now, made it possible for him to provide a home for his son, and that the court has not found that his home is an unfit place for John to live or that he himself is an unfit person to have his son's custody. In short, he asserts what he believes to be his superior rights as a father.

Parents are the joint guardians of their minor children. General Statutes § 6850; Boardman v. Boardman, 135 Conn. 124, 129, 62 A.2d 521, 13 A.L.R.2d 295. If one parent is in default of his parental obligations, he or she may be deprived of the right to have the care and custody of a minor child, and that right may be conferred upon the other. Hunt v. Hunt, 116 Conn. 701, 702, 163 A. 608. Neither parent has a right of propety in their children of which they cannot be deprived without their consent. Goshkarian's Appeal, 110 Conn. 463, 468, 148 A. 379; In re Appeal of Dattilo, 136 Conn. 488, 495, 72 A.2d 50. The state is primarily interested in having the status of husband and wife, with joint guardianship of children, maintained. When it is disrupted, the state must exercise its duties as parens patriae in the interests of the child.

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20 cases
  • McGaffin v. Roberts
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • June 19, 1984
    ...paramount consideration, whether the controversy is between the parents or between a parent and a stranger. Antedomenico v. Antedomenico, 142 Conn. 558, 562, 115 A.2d 659 [1955]; Pfeiffer v. Pfeiffer, [99 Conn. 154, 157, 121 A. 174 (1923)]." Baram v. Schwartz, supra, 318-19, 197 A.2d We fur......
  • Holodnak v. AVCO CORP., AVCO-LYCOMING D., STRATFORD, CONN.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • August 15, 1974
    ...a model, id. at 144 n. 32, certainly was not intended to bar testimony where there had been no bar previously. Antedomenico v. Antedomenico, 142 Conn. 558, 115 A.2d 659 (1955), and Mooney v. Mooney, 80 Conn. 446, 68 A. 985 (1908), cited by the union, merely stand for the proposition that § ......
  • Cookson v. Cookson
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 26, 1986
    ...were joint and equal. General Statutes § 45-43; 2 Yontef v. Yontef, 185 Conn. 275, 291, 440 A.2d 899 (1981); Antedomenico v. Antedomenico, 142 Conn. 558, 562, 115 A.2d 659 (1955). This contrasts sharply with the situation in Santosky where the parents were pitted against the state and faced......
  • Simons v. Simons
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • February 8, 1977
    ...The remarriage of the noncustodial parent by itself has been held not to justify opening the question of custody. Antedomenico v. Antedomenico, 142 Conn. 558, 115 A.2d 659. The fact that treatment is begun, when the problem being treated may have arisen earlier, cannot be held to justify op......
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