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New Connecticut law reduces probate court authority in family law

Connecticut uses a system of probate courts to help people access the basic functions of the law with relative ease. After all, courts should serve the needs of the people who need their help the most. Probate courts are where guardians, inheritors and many other types of people learn their status and have their cases heard.

A new law promulgated in Hartford regulates how probate courts decide the fate of children with no parent or legal guardian who can take custody. The bill came in response to excesses by court-appointed guardians that have included abuse and neglect, as well as subsequent investigations by the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Probate courts will no longer be able to issue a motion for guardianship under its own mandate. An adult relative of the child or the child's attorney will now be the only people who can file a motion to take custody of a child, along with a competent adult already in physical custody of the child.

Activists hope that this will be a new bolster to parental rights and the welfare of children who suffered under court-appointed guardians. The law does lessen the independent abilities of probate courts to handle these legal issues, which may involve more interested and expert parties in the process.

People with a case in probate court regarding their families may always have the privilege of legal representation when they are parties to a proceeding in probate court or another civil court. An attorney may increase the chances of a case ending with a client's preference expressed.

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