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Doe v. Doe

Supreme Court of Idaho

December 18, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF JOHN DOE (2014-15), IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
JOHN DOE (2014-15), Respondent-Appellant

2014 Opinion No. 134

Page 1170

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

The judgment of the magistrate court is affirmed.

Law Offices of Theresa A. Martin, Boise, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

HORTON, Justice. Chief Justice BURDICK, Justices EISMANN, J. JONES and Justice Pro Tem WALTERS, CONCUR.

Page 1171

ON THE BRIEFS

HORTON, Justice.

This is an expedited appeal by John Doe (2014-15) (" Doe" ) from an order terminating his parental rights to two minor children on the grounds of neglect. We affirm.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Doe and Jane Doe are the biological father and mother of two boys: B.D., born in 2008, and T.D., born in 2011. Doe and Jane Doe divorced in 2009. This appeal only relates to the termination of Doe's parental rights.[1]

Beginning July 12, 2012, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (the Department) began working with Doe to address continuing safety concerns for the children. These concerns included lack of supervision, neglect, and physical abuse.[2] There were times when Doe did not know the whereabouts of the children, could not provide the names of occupants of his residence, and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. A service provider, Northwest Neurobehavioral, reported that B.D. had been missing counseling and speech therapy appointments. On November 19, 2012, Doe tested positive for methamphetamine.

Page 1172

On December 13, 2012, the Department commenced a child protection case. On December 14, 2012, following a shelter care hearing, the magistrate court entered an order placing the children in the temporary custody of the Department. On January 23, 2013, the magistrate court vested custody of the children in the Department following an adjudicatory hearing. The magistrate judge commended Doe for entering into treatment and explained that she was concerned that Doe needed additional time to recover from recent methamphetamine use.

On February 5, 2013, a case plan hearing was held and the magistrate judge modified the proposed case plan submitted by the Department. The case plan required Doe to: maintain a legitimate source of income; maintain safe and stable housing; resolve pending legal issues and refrain from illegal activity; attend anger management counseling; participate in counseling with his children; participate in visits with the children; supervise the children properly when they were in his care; engage in services to meet the children's developmental, emotional, physical, and medical needs; attend a parenting education class; provide information regarding previous psychological evaluations or participate in an updated evaluation; continue mental health and substance abuse treatment; and participate in random tests for drugs and alcohol.

On April 2, 2013, the magistrate court conducted a 60-day review hearing. There, Doe submitted to testing which showed recent methamphetamine use. Doe admitted to using methamphetamine the previous Friday. The magistrate judge explained to Doe that she was concerned that he was not engaging in his case plan, placing particular emphasis on the need for him to maintain sobriety and to engage in programming to address his substance abuse and anger management issues. The foster parents, who are also the children's paternal grandparents, appeared at the hearing and reported the children were making developmental progress but were agitated after parental visits. The children's guardian ad litem reported that the children were improving in foster care and that the " children appeared to be well cared for."

On May 29, 2013, a six-month review hearing was held. The magistrate judge expressed her concerns over Doe's lack of effort to reunify with his children, his inability to communicate with the Department, and a recent psychological evaluation wherein Doe admitted continued use and the sale of methamphetamine. The evaluating psychologist recommended that Doe: (1) continue substance abuse treatment; (2) continue psychiatric care and medication; (3) obtain counseling for depression and relating to Doe's unhealthy relationship with his ex-wife; (4) participate in anger management training if other interventions did not address Doe's problems; and (5) obtain further parenting education.

On July 25, 2013, the magistrate court held a 60-day review hearing. The magistrate judge found Doe was doing well in his visits with his children but still had issues with substance abuse and following through with treatment, telling him that " [t]he sad part about this is you do well in visits and the[] children enjoy visits. It is really just [dealing with] your substance abuse." After the hearing, Doe's housing situation deteriorated. Doe had not had steady employment since January of 2012. In the fall of 2013, after Doe became unemployed, he was evicted due to non-payment of rent. This led to a period of homelessness where he lived on the street, in a van, or in a car.

On December 10, 2013, the magistrate court continued a permanency hearing to January 6, 2014, due to Doe's absence. After Doe failed to appear for the continued hearing, on January 28, 2014, the magistrate court entered an order adopting a permanency plan calling for termination of Doe's parental rights and adoption and authorizing the Department to suspend reunification efforts.

On February 5, 2014, the Department filed a petition for termination of Doe's parental rights on the basis of neglect. On March 20, 2014, Doe was arrested and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and two misdemeanors. ...


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