IN RE G.T. et al
on Briefs November 19, 2015
Corrected May 3, 2016
briefs: Kimberly C. Cavanagh, Esq., Law Office of Kimberly C.
Cavanagh, Esq., Dover-Foxcroft, for appellant mother.
D. Smith, Esq., Law Office of Christopher D. Smith, Esq.,
Dexter, for appellant father.
T. Mills, Attorney General and Meghan Szylvian Asst. Atty.
Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee
Department of Health and Human Services.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.
[¶1] The two boys who are the subject of
this termination of parental rights proceeding were ten and
twelve years old when the court (Dover-Foxcroft,
Mallonee, J. ) held a hearing on the third petition
brought by the Department of Health and Human Services to
terminate the parental rights of their parents. Two prior
petitions had been denied, allowing their parents
multiple opportunities to learn how to parent their sons free
from violence, hostility, and denigration. By the time of the
third trial, both boys suffered from post-traumatic stress
disorder and other serious conditions, and they faced a life
limited by their lost opportunity for a healthy childhood.
Their parents appeal from the termination of their parental
rights, challenging the court's findings of parental
unfitness and its determination that termination was in each
child's best interest. We discern no error or abuse of
discretion and affirm the judgment.
[¶2] This family became involved in a child
protection proceeding in 2003, when G.T. was less than a year
old, due to the father's domestic violence and mental
health issues, and the mother's neglect. The Department
eventually petitioned for the termination of the parents'
parental rights, but the court ( MacMichael, J. )
determined in April 2005 that a termination of parental
rights was not in G.T.'s best interest. The court
clarified, however, that the father had a responsibility to
" understand once and for all that he cannot continue
his pattern of domestic violence and denial," that he
must not behave in an abusive manner, and that he must "
do more than pay lip service to what the service providers
have been trying to teach him." Later in 2005, J.T. was
born and was immediately placed in the Department's
[¶3] The court considered a subsequent
petition for termination of parental rights, entering a
judgment in May 2006. The court found that the father had
physically disciplined an older child from another
relationship in December 2005 by grabbing the front of the
child's jacket and his neck, and that the father had
continued to be unable " to conduct himself in a manner
that demonstrates alternatives to hurtful behavior." The
court found that, although the father had demonstrated some
willingness to participate in services, he had " not
demonstrated an ability to use what he ha[d] been
taught." The court found that he had spoken in a "
loud, angry, and threatening manner" at a meeting held
to review a treatment plan, that he had " used
derogatory terms to describe the ...