IN RE ZIANNAG. et al.
Submitted On Briefs: November 29, 2017
G. Day, Esq., Garland, 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, JABAR, HJELM, and
The mother of Zianna G. and Lucas G. appeals from a judgment
of the District Court (Bangor, Campbell, J.)
terminating her parental rights to the children pursuant to
22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i),
(b)(ii) (2016).She challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting the courts finding of parental unfitness
and the courts finding and discretionary determination that
termination is in the best interests of the children. See
id. § 4055(1)(B)(2). Because the evidence supports
the courts findings and discretionary determination, we
affirm the judgment.
A court may terminate a parents parental rights if the court
finds, by clear and convincing evidence, at least one ground
of parental unfitness and that termination is in the
children's best interests. In re Caleb M., 2017
ME 66, ¶ 27, 159 A.3d 345; see also 22 M.R.S.
§ 4055(1)(B)(2). "We review the trial courts
factual findings for clear error and will reverse a finding
only if there is no competent evidence in the record to
support it, if the fact-finder clearly misapprehends the
meaning of the evidence, or if the finding is so contrary to
the credible evidence that it does not represent the truth
and right of the case." In re Cameron B., 2017
ME 18, ¶ 10, 154 A.3d 1199 (quotation marks omitted).
"The weight and credibility of the testimony and other
evidence ... are for the fact-finders determination."
The trial court may presume that a parent is unfit when
[t]he child has been placed in the legal custody or care of
the department, the parent has a chronic substance abuse
problem, and the parents prognosis indicates that the child
will not be able to return to the custody of the parent
within a reasonable period of time, considering the
child's age and the need for a permanent home. The fact
that a parent has been unable to provide safe care of a child
for a period of 9 months due to substance abuse constitutes a
chronic substance abuse problem.
22 M.R.S. § 4055(1-A)(C) (2016); In re Caleb
M., 2017 ME 66, ¶ 28, 159A.3d345; see In re
Evelyn A, 2017 ME 182, ¶¶ 29-31, 169 A.3d 914
(discussing the application of section 4055(1-A) in a hearing
on a petition to terminate parental rights).
Based on competent evidence in the record, the court found by
clear and convincing evidence that the mother was unwilling
or unable to protect the children from jeopardy and to take
responsibility for the children within a time reasonably
calculated to meet their needs. The court based this
determination on the following supported factual findings:
Mother has a chronic substance abuse problem. The children
have been in the custody of DHHS since November 30, 2015,
almost one and a half years. Mother has only attended 62% of
her counseling appointments with [her substance abuse
counselor]. Mother is in a contemplative state regarding her
sobriety. Mother has not made a full commitment to
maintaining sobriety. Mother has not cooperated with DHHS to
be tested for drugs. She has admitted to drinking and using
illegal drugs. There is no reason to believe that Mother is
any closer to maintaining sobriety than she was at the
beginning of this case. Mother still has a lot of work to do
if she is serious about addressing her substance abuse
problem. Unfortunately, she is out of time.
Mother has been inconsistent in virtually all aspects of
reunification. Mother did not follow through with her case
manager, who was trying to help Mother access services.
Mother has been inconsistent attending counseling. Mother has
refused to cooperate with drug screening. Mother has been
inconsistent with visitation.
Mother is often late for visitation or cancels visitation
appointments. This is very upsetting for the children,
particularly Lucas. It makes Lucas ...