Fotis Dulos challenges the guardianship of his stepmother

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NEW CANAAN – As Fotis Dulos continued to draw public attention to his ex-wife’s disappearance, the custody battle for the couple’s five children has been hidden from public view in an estate court in Huis closed.

A recent New Canaan Estate Court action came to light on Thursday when Fotis Dulos’ attorney filed a motion to dismiss his client’s divorce and appeal the guardianship of the children’s grandmother.

In a motion to dismiss contentious two-year divorce between Jennifer and Fotis DulosAttorney Richard Rochlin said the Nov. 25 probate judge’s ruling gives Gloria Farber full decision-making powers for children.

Rochlin said his client intends to seek access to the children when the appeal is heard in Stamford Juvenile Court on January 9 – the same day Fotis Dulos is due to appear for his criminal proceedings regarding the disappearance of his ex-wife.

Rochlin also wants a judge to dismiss the divorce case, which was unsuccessful due to the disappearance. The fate of Jennifer Dulos “is unknown,” Rochlin said in a memorandum supporting the divorce rejection.

If the divorce were to be dismissed, it would pave the way for a judge to rule on custody matters instead of the three who oversaw probate, criminal law and divorce cases.

Lawyers for Farber could not be reached on Thursday for comment.

Fotis Dulos was banned from contacting his children under the conditions of his bail on charges of tampering with evidence and obstructing prosecution in the May 24 disappearance.

Farber was granted the right to intervene in the Dulos divorce. She has been looking after the children in her Manhattan apartment since the disappearance and requests permanent custody of them.

A probate court judge granted Farber guardianship on Nov. 25, but that decision was sealed because it is a minors case and became public on Thursday when Rochlin filed his appeal.


Fotis Dulos did not attend the probate hearing, but is asking for a “full evidence hearing” in the juvenile court.

“Sir. Dulos’ parental rights have not been revoked and he is presumed innocent of all criminal charges currently pending against him,” Rochlin said. A motion to dismiss the criminal charges is still pending before the judge in the State Superior Court, John Blawie, who is overseeing the case.

Speaking to the media outside the State Supreme Court in Hartford, where his criminal defense attorney argued for the overturning of a gag order in the case, Fotis Dulos reiterated that he wanted to have contact with his children.

“I love my children, I miss them every day, I will not stop fighting for our right to be a family,” Fotis Dulos said on December 12.

State law grants Fotis Dulos a right to information about children, including their medical and school records, Rochlin said.

“Ms. Farber is unwilling to share this information with Mr. Dulos, who is entitled to this information under Connecticut law,” Rochlin said.

Farber also denied members of Fotis Dulos’ family access to children, “despite a long and positive history with these people,” Rochlin said. Fotis Dulos’ sister and niece have recently sought time to spend with the children, but have been turned down, Rochlin said.

Lawyers representing Farber in the divorce and custody battle have previously called Fotis Dulos’ legal moves as thinly veiled attempts to use children as “pawns” for his own interests.

Court documents filed during the divorce in September indicate that Fotis Dulos was seeking to have his two eldest children, twins, then aged 13, represented in police custody by their own lawyer.

Fotis Dulos was also seeking access to his children’s medical and school records, although Farber was granted temporary custody after being accused of their mother’s disappearance.

“Minor children deserve to have their educational and medical needs met without interference from the defendant and without the risk that their sensitive information will be used by the defendant to promote their own interests, especially in the press,” lawyers said. Dranginis and Kelly Scott, representing Farber, said at the time.

Farber’s lawyers have asked a Stamford Family Court judge to dismiss the two petitions. The divorce has since been stalled with custody proceedings in probate court and juvenile family court, making them invisible to the public.

Rochlin said in the memorandum filed Thursday that the dormant divorce statute could lead to “different judges” making “conflicting orders on the same issues.”

Fotis Dulos already had limited access to children during the divorce proceedings when his ex-wife disappeared, court records show.

Fotis Dulos is also fighting her mother-in-law in civil court, where Farber filed a $ 2.5 million lawsuit for business loans that she says have not been repaid to her family. Fotis Dulos retorted that the Farber family owes him $ 1 million. A a two day trial took place this month in Hartford and a Superior Court judge is expected to render a decision soon.

Farber is also foreclosure on Farmington Fotis Dulos house built in 2011. Jennifer and Fotis Dulos lived there until 2017, when she moved with the children to New Canaan and filed for divorce.

Jennifer Dulos was last seen on a neighbor’s security camera returning to the New Canaan home she was renting at around 8:05 a.m. on May 24. According to the arrest warrants, police believe Fotis Dulos was “on the lookout” when she arrived home to drop off their children at a nearby school.

Police said two people looked like Fotis Dulos and his ex-girlfriend Michelle Troconis were captured on video in Hartford later that night around the time Jennifer Dulos went missing. The man according to police is Fotis Dulos was seen in the videos throwing bags which were then determined to contain his wife’s blood and clothing, according to the warrants.

A separate arrest warrant said Fotis Dulos and Troconis – who face the same charges – also took a red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck owned by a Fore Group employee to a car wash in the days following the disappearance. Police said in the warrant that they believed Fotis Dulos drove the truck to New Canaan on the morning of the disappearance.

Fotis Dulos also urged the employee to remove the seats, which investigators later found Jennifer Dulos’ blood on one of them, according to the warrant.


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