In the Matter of: JANE DOE II, A Child Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age.
JOHN DOE and JANE DOE (2017-19), Respondents-Appellants. JOHN DOE I and JANE DOE I, Petitioners-Respondents,
Opinion No. 124
from the Magistrate Court of the Third Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. A. Lynne Krogh,
magistrate court's final judgment is affirmed.
L. Howard, Interim Chief Public Defender, Caldwell, for
Danielle C. Scarlett, Nampa, for respondents.
SUBMITTED ON THE BRIEFS
Nature of the Case
expedited appeal out of Canyon County, Jane Doe and John Doe
(2017-19) ("Mother, " "Father, " and
collectively, "Parents") appeal a magistrate
court's Final Judgment terminating their parental rights
to Jane Doe II ("Child"). Jane Doe I and John Doe I
("Grandmother, " "Grandfather, " and
collectively, "Grandparents") initiated the
underlying action by filing a Petition for Termination of
Parental Rights and a Petition for Adoption. The magistrate
court issued a Final Judgment terminating Parents'
parental rights after concluding that Parents had abandoned
Child and that the termination of Parents' parental
rights was in Child's best interest. On appeal, Parents
challenge the magistrate court's conclusion that Child
was abandoned and that termination of parental rights was in
Child's best interest.
Factual and Procedural Background
and Father were married in October 2006 and have six children
together ranging in age from three to thirteen
("Children, " and when not including Child,
"Siblings"). Child was born in 2006 and is the
second oldest of the Children.
the guardianship of Child became an issue, Grandparents and
Parents were on good terms. Parents had financial
difficulties, but Grandparents were their safety net. Parents
and Children lived with Grandparents off and on from about
the time Child was one year old. At times, Mother and
Children would live with Grandparents without Father because
Father was incarcerated.
the 2012-2013 school year, Child lived with Parents and
attended first grade, but she did not do well in school.
Father testified that Child's poor performance was likely
due to her being easily distracted and having to live in the
very tight quarters of a 32-foot motor home. Grandparents
testified that Child performed poorly because she missed many
school days due to the instability of Parents' home life.
Grandparents offered, and Parents agreed, to allow Child to
live with Grandparents and repeat the first grade at a
different school. Child began living with Grandparents on
July 4, 2013. Between July 2013 and August 2014, Child lived
with Grandparents during weekdays and with Parents during
August 8, 2014, Child was staying with Parents for the
weekend, but called Grandmother and asked to be picked up.
Grandmother testified that, during bath time that evening,
she observed that Child had fingerprint-like marks on her
bottom and red marks on her face. Child explained that Father
had hit her so hard that she thought her head "was going
to pop off." Grandmother testified that they did not
call the police at that time because they believed that the
matter could be resolved within the family.
later, Father called the Sheriff's office because
Grandparents had not returned Child. Father did not press
kidnapping or custodial interference charges because he
believed that Child would be returned to Parents within a few
days. However, instead of returning Child to Parents,
Grandmother applied for a domestic violence protection order
on behalf of Child against Father. Around October 6, 2014,
the protection order was granted. The protection order
prohibited Father from contacting Child for one year.
filed for guardianship of Child on August 19, 2014. On March
3, 2015, an order was issued appointing Grandparents as
temporary guardians of Child. Days after the entry of the
temporary guardianship order, Grandmother contacted an agency
that provided supervised and monitored parent/child
visitations to arrange supervised visits between Child and
visits occurred between April 2015 and July 2015, which were
documented by an agency employee ("Supervisor"). It
had been eight months since Child had seen Siblings.
Supervisor's summary report of the eight visits concluded
with the following notes. The visits were very difficult
because Parents and Grandparents did not work well together.
Grandparents terminated the visits after the eighth visit.
Supervisor attempted to negotiate a better schedule for
future visits, but Grandparents said that they would work
with a different agency. Supervisor called Mother to inform
her that Grandparents refused to continue visits with the
agency. Mother wept and begged Supervisor to continue to
arrange visits with Grandparents. Supervisor tried several
times to work with Grandparents, but they refused all
attempts to contact Child have been unsuccessful. As of May
26, 2017 (when the magistrate court issued its Findings of
Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order), there had been no
contact between Child and Parents or Siblings since July
2015. Parents have not provided support for Child during
Grandparents' guardianship. Father testified that despite
earning between $1, 200 and $1, 600 per month, they did not
support Child financially in any way. Specifically, Father
testified as follows:
Q: So after October 2015 [the expiration of the protection
order], what did you do to financially support [Child]?
A: There wasn't anything that I did.
A: I didn't do anything.
Q: You didn't do anything to ...