Appeal from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Carolyn M. Minder, Magistrate.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lansing, Judge
2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 496
THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION AND SHALL NOT BE CITED AS AUTHORITY
Decree terminating parental rights, affirmed.
John Doe (Father) appeals from the magistrate's decree terminating his parental rights to his child, arguing the magistrate erred by finding neglect and finding that termination was in the best interests of the child. We affirm.
On June 13, 2011, Father and his then seven-year-old son were residing in a homeless shelter in Boise when Father was caught "huffing" from an aerosol can. Father was arrested for intoxication by inhalation of a toxic substance, in violation of a Boise City ordinance.*fn1 Son was declared in imminent danger and was taken into protective custody.*fn2 On June 15, 2011, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (Department) filed a Child Protective Act (CPA) case alleging that Father's arrest and incarceration, Father's abuse of illegal substances and prescription drugs, and Father's unaddressed mental health problems left him unable to discharge his responsibilities to provide parental care and control of his child.
Father waived his right to a shelter care hearing, and an order of temporary legal custody as to the Father was entered on June 28, 2011. On July 8, 2011, Father stipulated that Son came within the jurisdiction of the CPA but did not stipulate to legal custody vesting with the Department. On July 22, 2011, a case plan pertaining to Father was filed. The case plan assigned tasks to Father to address his homelessness; safety concerns for Son arising from homelessness; Father's lack of income; Son's mental health problems; Son's medical, developmental, and educational needs; and Father's untreated mental health problems and substance abuse. On August 10, 2011, the magistrate entered orders approving the case plan and assigning legal custody of Son to the Department. Son was placed in foster care.
The magistrate held review hearings in September and December 2011. At the latter hearing, the Department and Son's guardian ad litem filed reports presenting a non-positive picture of Father's willingness to address the concerns identified in the case plan. In June 2012, a permanency review hearing was held. Submitted reports outlined Father's continuing inability and unwillingness to comply with the case plan. Nonetheless, the magistrate agreed to accommodate the Department's request to allow Father additional time to comply with the case plan. The magistrate entered an order for a short extension of foster care with a permanency plan to reunify Father and Son.
In late August 2012, another review hearing was held. Because Father's inability and unwillingness to comply with the case plan persisted, the magistrate granted the Department's request to amend the permanency plan and set a hearing for September 12, 2012. At that hearing, the Department requested authorization to amend the permanency goal to termination of Father's parental rights and adoption, and further requested that the magistrate allow the Department to cease reasonable efforts to reunify Father and Son. The magistrate granted the requests and entered orders in accord. On October 11, 2012, the Department filed a petition for termination of parent-child relationship, alleging that Father had neglected Son and that termination was in the best interests of the child. Another review hearing was held on November 17, 2012.*fn3
At a termination hearing in December 2012, documentary evidence was admitted and Son's foster father, a Department social worker supervisor, Son's guardian ad litem, Father's pain management physician, Father, and Father's former roommate testified concerning Father's alleged neglect and the best interests of the child. Thereafter, the magistrate entered a decree terminating Father's parental rights. Father timely appeals and asserts the magistrate court erred in its findings that he neglected Son and that the best interests of the child warrant termination of Father's parental rights.
The United States Supreme Court has held that a parent's interest in maintaining a relationship with his or her child is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753 (1982); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 254-55 (1978), and the CPA directs that "the state of Idaho shall, to the fullest extent possible, seek to preserve, protect, enhance and reunite the family relationship." Idaho Code § 16-1601. Likewise, the Termination of Parent and Child Relationship Act states, ...