Submitted On Briefs: June 27, 2018
L. Calcagni, Esq., Plymouth, Massachusetts, for appellant
Bradley P. Sica, Jr., Esq., Christopher S. Berryment, LLC,
Mexico, for appellant mother
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, HJELM, and
The mother and father appeal from a judgment of the District
Court (Farmington, Carlson, /.) terminating their
parental rights to their son pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §
4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii) (2017). Both
parents challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting
the court's findings of unfitness and best interest as
well as the court's discretionary determination that the
termination of their parental rights was in the child's
best interest. Because the evidence supports the court's
factual findings and discretionary determinations, and
because the court did not abuse its discretion in determining
that termination was in the child's best interest, we
affirm the judgment.
After a two-day termination hearing, the court issued a
judgment containing the following findings of fact, which are
supported by the record. See In re Child of James
R., 2018 ME 50, ¶ 2, 182 A.3d 1252.
[The parents] are a married couple . . . who have had
extensive involvement with DHHS child protection services for
approximately twenty years off and on. The issues have
largely been unsanitary living conditions and neglect.
On May 11, 2016, the [c]ourt entered a Jeopardy Order with
respect to [the child, ] which found him to be in
circumstances of jeopardy in the custody of his parents based
on the threat of serious harm, [and the] deprivation of
adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision and education.
After DHHS took custody of [the child], he was placed with
his older half-brother and his wife. [The parents] were able
to buy the trailer that they had been renting and told DHHS
that they were going to make improvements that would remedy
the unsanitary living conditions. They claimed that their
former landlord had essentially contributed to the unsanitary
living conditions and it was not their fault.
Over the next few months, living conditions in [the]
parents' home appeared to be getting better. Both [of the
parents] were in counseling with counselors that they had
been seeing for a number of years.
[The parents] both completed [Court Ordered Diagnostic
Evaluations (CODE)] Given the history of DHHS child
protection involvement for the same issues and [the
mother's] mental state, [the CODE evaluator] does not
believe that [the mother] can make sufficient changes that
could reduce the risk of further incidences of child
maltreatment. She tends to blame others for the circumstances
that have ...