Argued: June 15, 2017
S. Brewer, Esq. (orally), Schneider & Brewer, Waterville,
for appellant Father
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Hunter C. Umphrey, Asst.
Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta,
for appellee Department of Health and Human Services.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
In this child protection action, the father of Emma B.
appeals from a judgment entered in the District Court
(Waterville, Mathews, J.) finding that the child is
in circumstances of jeopardy, see 22 M.R.S.
§§ 4035, 4036 (2016), and ordering that the child
be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and
Human Services and that the Department cease reunification
efforts with him. On appeal, the father does not challenge
the jeopardy order on its merits but rather argues that the
court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the child
protection petition as to him for lack of personal
jurisdiction. We conclude that, to have the authority to
issue a jeopardy order that will protect the child, the court
was not required to have personal jurisdiction over the
father, and we therefore affirm.
The following facts found by the court are supported by
competent evidence in the record. See In re Cameron
B., 2017 ME 18, ¶ 10, 154 A.3d 1199. The
father lived with the child and mother until the child was
approximately six months old, which would have been in early
2008. The parties do not dispute that when the father lived
with the mother and the child, they did not reside in
Maine. From the time the father no longer lived
with the mother and the child until approximately August
2016, he maintained regular contact with the child by means
of telephone calls, video chats, social media, and in-person
visits once or twice a year. As the mother testified, the
child continued to reside primarily with her in New York.
The father is currently incarcerated in Massachusetts. He has
never acted as the childs primary caregiver, has not provided
resources to the child, and did not intervene when the childs
safety was at risk with the mother. While incarcerated and
after the Department commenced this child protection
proceeding, the father was in contact with the mother by
phone and inquired about the well-being of the child, but he
has made no arrangements to provide care or otherwise take
responsibility for the child.
In late July 2016, the mother relocated from New York to
Maine, bringing the child with her, to escape an abusive
ex-boyfriend. The mothers current boyfriend moved to Maine
with them. The mother had notified the father that she and
the child were moving, and the father did not oppose that
decision. In their home in Maine, the child was subjected to
emotional abuse by her mother and was physically abused by
the mothers boyfriend.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services began an
investigation into the childs circumstances after being
notified by New York child protective authorities of an open
case there and after a neighbor in Maine told police that the
child had asked for help. On August 5, 2016, Department and
law enforcement officials placed the child in a six-hour
hold, see 15 M.R.S. § 3501(1)-(2) (2016), due
to the childs unsafe situation and the mothers unwillingness
to cooperate. The same day, the Department commenced this
child protection proceeding,  see 22 M.R.S. §
4032 (2016), and obtained a preliminary child protection
order, see 22 M.R.S. §§ 4034, 4036 (2016).
The child was immediately placed with a foster family, but
after both that and a second foster placement were unable to
meet the childs needs, she was psychiatrically hospitalized
for several weeks before being discharged to a therapeutic
At the summary preliminary hearing held on August 22, 2016,
see 22 M.R.S. § 4034(4), the father did not
appear but the court (E. Walker, J.) determined that
he had not been provided with sufficient notice.
Subsequently, in November, the father was served with notice
of the child protection proceeding at a correctional facility
in Massachusetts. After the court (Stanfill, J.)
appointed counsel to represent him, see 22 M.R.S.
§ 4005(2) (2016), the father filed a motion to dismiss
the petition pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), asserting
that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over him because
he is not a Maine resident, has never traveled to Maine, and
otherwise lacks sufficient minimum contacts with Maine. The
court (Mathews, J.) denied the motion.
The father did not attend the jeopardy hearing, which was
held on December 21, 2016. His attorney was present, however,
and renewed the motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. The court denied the motion, reasoning that
"the nature of the child protection and the emergency
and necessary need to address the child-related issues
distinguishes this type of process" from divorce cases
or child support proceedings. The court also concluded that
the circumstances of this action, including the fathers
contacts with Maine, satisfied the standard three-part in
personam jurisdiction analysis based on Maines long-arm
statute. See infra n.3.
At the hearing, the mother agreed to the issuance of a
jeopardy order as to her, which included a requirement that
the Department file a proposed reunification plan as to her.
On January 19, 2017, the court issued a written jeopardy
order as to the father. The court found that he "has
never interceded on Emmas behalf. He has failed to protect
her; failed to take responsibility for her and by failing to
appear after being duly noticed to do so, he has abandoned
her as contemplated" by 22 M.R.S. § 4002(1-A)(E)
(2016). The court ordered that the child remain in the
custody of the Department. Because the jeopardy order against