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In re Child of Everett S.

Supreme Court of Maine

July 10, 2017

IN RE CHILD OF EVERETT S.

          Submitted On Briefs: June 27, 2018

          Luann L. Calcagni, Esq., Plymouth, Massachusetts, for appellant father

          Bradley P. Sica, Jr., Esq., Christopher S. Berryment, LLC, Mexico, for appellant mother

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] 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 ...

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