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In re Termination of Parental Rights of John (2013-08) Doe

Court of Appeals of Idaho

July 9, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF JOHN (2013-08) DOE.
v.
JOHN (2013-08) DOE, Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 572

Appeal from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Cathleen MacGregor-Irby, Magistrate.

Order terminating parental rights, affirmed.

Theresa A. Martin, Boise, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Marcy J. Spilker, Deputy Attorney General, Lewiston, for respondent.

MELANSON, Judge.

John Doe appeals from the magistrate's order terminating his parental rights. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

On January 29, 2012, law enforcement declared Doe's child (and the child's two siblings--unrelated to Doe) to be in imminent danger because of unsafe living conditions in the mother's home. These conditions warranted prompt removal for the safety of Doe's child. At this time, Doe's whereabouts were unknown. A shelter care hearing was held in which the mother was present but Doe was not. The magistrate entered a default as to Doe and ordered that temporary custody of the child be given to the Department of Health and Welfare pending an adjudicatory hearing.

At the permanency hearing, the magistrate approved a plan of termination of parental rights and adoption. At the subsequent trial, the Department called the social worker and the guardian ad litem of the child to testify. Doe appeared through his attorney, but was not present at the hearing. Doe declined the opportunity to testify via telephone and did not call any witnesses. The magistrate issued a memorandum decision and order that concluded Doe abandoned his child and that termination of parental rights was in the best interest of the child. Doe appeals.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A parent has a fundamental liberty interest in maintaining a relationship with his or her child. Doe v. State, 137 Idaho 758, 760, 53 P.3d 341, 343 (2002). See also Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 255 (1978). This interest is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. State v. Doe, 144 Idaho 839, 842, 172 P.3d 1114, 1117 (2007). "Implicit in [the Termination of Parent and Child Relationship Act] is the philosophy that wherever possible family life should be strengthened and preserved . . . ." I.C. § 16-2001(2). Therefore, the requisites of due process must be met when the Department intervenes to terminate the parent-child relationship. State v. Doe, 143 Idaho 383, 386, 146 P.3d 649, 652 (2006). Due process requires that the Department prove grounds for terminating a parent-child relationship by clear and convincing evidence. Id.

Because a fundamental liberty interest is at stake, the United States Supreme Court has determined that a court may terminate a parent-child relationship only if that decision is supported by "clear and convincing evidence." Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 746 (1982). See also I.C. § 16-2009; In re Doe, 146 Idaho 759, ...


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