Submitted on Briefs: October 10, 2018
E. Meggison, Esq., Belfast, for appellant father.
Nicholas Fowler, Esq., Bangor, 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 MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY,
The mother and father of three children appeal from a
judgment of the District Court (Bangor, Jordan, J.)
terminating their parental rights to their two older children
pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a),
(b)(i)-(ii) (2017). The parents challenge the sufficiency of
the evidence supporting the court's determination of
parental unfitness and further contend that the court erred
by concluding that termination of their parental rights is in
the best interests of the children. We affirm the judgment.
The following facts, which are supported by the evidence, are
drawn from the judgment and the procedural record. See In
re Children of Nicole M., 2018 ME 75, ¶ 2, 187A.3d
In July of 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services
filed a petition for preliminary protection and a child
protection petition with respect to the mother and
father's two children, the younger of whom had just been
born. See 22 M.R.S. §§ 4032-4033 (2017).
The preliminary protection order was granted by the court
[Budd, J.), and the children were placed in the
custody of the Department at that time.
By agreement, in February of 2017, the court (Jordan,
J.) made a finding of jeopardy against the mother and
father based on the father's history of violence and
criminal involvement, the mother's pattern of choosing
unsafe partners, and each parent's untreated mental
illness. The court's permanency planning order included
requirements that each parent complete a mental health
evaluation and that the father be evaluated for the batterers
intervention program. Both parents were ordered to follow any
recommendations made by the evaluators.
The following June, the Department petitioned the court to
terminate both parents' parental rights. While the
termination petition was pending, the mother gave birth to
the parents' third child, who is the subject of a
separate child protection proceeding. See supra n.l.
After holding a three-day hearing in March of 2018, the court
entered a judgment terminating both parents' parental
rights to the two older children. Based on clear and
convincing evidence, the court found that each parent was
unwilling or unable to protect those children from jeopardy
and that that was unlikely to change within a time reasonably
calculated to meet the children's needs, and that each
parent was unwilling or unable to take responsibility for the
children and could not do so within a time reasonably
calculated to meet the children's needs. See 22
M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(i)-(ii). The court also
determined, by clear and convincing evidence, that
termination of each parent's parental rights is in the
children's best interests. See 22 M.R.S. §
The court made the following factual findings, all of which
are drawn from competent evidence in the record:
... The parents have a substantial history with the
Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Child
Protection Division. Each parent has other children in the
custody of other parties. Both parents have been determined
by the Court to have longstanding problems that impact on
their ability to safely parent children. The principal
question before this Court: Have they ...