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In re Termination of Parental Rights of (2013-12) Doe

Court of Appeals of Idaho

September 24, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF JANE (2013-12) DOE.
v.
JANE (2013-12) DOE, Respondent-Appellant IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent, and GUARDIAN AD LITEM, Respondent,

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 680

Appeal from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Twin Falls County. Hon. Roger Harris, Magistrate.

Order terminating parental rights

Williams Law Office Chtd.; Timothy J. Williams, Twin Falls, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; James T. Baird, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

GRATTON, Judge

Jane Doe appeals from the magistrate's order terminating her parental rights to her child, B.N. We affirm.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Doe, thirty-two years old, started using drugs when she was eighteen years old. Since that time, she has had periods of drug use and periods of sobriety. In March 2009, Doe gave birth to B.N. during a period of sobriety but started using drugs again in December 2010. Additionally, Doe and B.N.'s father (Father) started to have disputes involving domestic violence. At the end of July 2011, Doe and Father engaged in a physical fight in the presence of B.N. Father removed B.N. from the home and took the child to his mother's (Grandmother) place of work and dropped the child off. Grandmother cared for B.N. for a few days before determining that she could not handle the child's behavior and contacted Child Protection Services (CPS). On August 3, 2011, B.N. was placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare (Department) and has been in State custody since that time. Subsequently, a case plan was agreed upon by Doe and the Department and ordered by the magistrate. The case plan focused on several key areas, including substance abuse, domestic violence, parenting skills, stable employment, and safe housing.

Since the initiation of the case plan, Doe has failed to submit to a majority of her drug tests and admitted to continual use of methamphetamine from the start of the case plan until July 2012. Additionally, Doe admitted to instances of domestic violence until March 2012. During this time, Doe was on probation for driving without privileges. She violated her probation twice, once for failing to pay court fees and continuing to use drugs and alcohol, and once for failing to complete a treatment program at the Walker Center. On May 19, 2012, Doe was sentenced to a term of incarceration for violating her probation. On June 29, 2012, while Doe was incarcerated, the Department filed a petition to terminate Doe's parental rights to B.N. B.N. had been in the custody of the Department for eleven months at the time the petition was filed. The Department sought termination on the grounds of neglect. Doe was released from incarceration on July 5, 2012, and immediately entered treatment at the Walker Center. She completed her treatment on August 2, 2012, and subsequently moved in with some friends. She began an intensive outpatient treatment program that concluded on November 8, 2012. Thereafter, Doe began attending drug counseling, domestic violence classes, parenting classes, and aftercare classes.

The trial for termination occurred on February 25 and 26, 2013, nearly nineteen months after B.N. entered foster care. Following the trial, the magistrate ordered Doe's parental rights terminated on the grounds of neglect.[1] The magistrate also determined that termination was in the best interest of the child. Doe timely appeals.

II.

ANALYSIS

Doe claims that the magistrate erred by granting the petition to terminate her parental rights to B.N. The magistrate found that Doe neglected her child and that termination was in the child's best interest. 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. ยง 16-2001(2). Therefore, the requisites of due process must be met when the Department intervenes to terminate the ...


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