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In re Termination of Parental Rights of Doe

Court of Appeals of Idaho

December 27, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF JOHN (2013-20) DOE.
v.
JOHN (2013-20) DOE, Respondent-Appellant. JOHN DOE 1 and JANE DOE, Petitioners-Respondents,

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2014 Unpublished Opinion No. 804

Appeal from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Carolyn M. Minder, Magistrate.

Theresa A. Martin, Boise, for appellant.

Lois K. Fletcher of Fletcher & West, LLP, Boise, for respondents.

MELANSON, Judge

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

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Doe and mother are the unwed, biological parents of a minor child. On the day following the child's birth, mother consented to the petitioners (mother's aunt and uncle) being appointed co-guardians of the child. The child has lived with the petitioners since that time. In October 2012, the petitioners filed a petition for termination of Doe's parental rights.[1] The petition alleged that Doe failed to maintain a normal parental relationship and had neither provided financial or emotional support nor had interaction with the child since the child's birth. At the time the petition was filed, the child was approximately fifteen months old, Doe was incarcerated, and mother was on a mental hold in Orofino. A trial on the petition was held in August 2013. Doe appeared in person and was represented by counsel. The magistrate received testimony from the petitioners, Doe, and a former employer of Doe. Following the hearing, the magistrate issued a memorandum decision terminating parental rights of both Doe and mother. Doe appeals.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A parent has a fundamental liberty interest in maintaining a relationship with his or her child. Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000); Doe v. State, 137 Idaho 758, 760, 53 P.3d 341, 343 (2002). 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 terminating the parent-child relationship. State v. Doe, 143 Idaho 383, 386, 146 P.3d 649, 652 (2006). Due process requires that the grounds for terminating a parent-child relationship be proved 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, 769 (1982). See also I.C. § 16-2009; In re Doe, 146 ...


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