Submitted On Briefs: September 26, 2018.
S. Mundy, Esq., Whitney, Mundy & Mundy, South Berwick,
for appellant mother
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty.
Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee
State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and
Tanya C. appeals from a judgment entered by the District
Court (Springvale, Moskowitz, J.) terminating her
parental rights to her youngest child pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §
4O55(1)(A)(1)(a) and (1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(iv) (2017). The
mother contends that she was denied due process when the
court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the petition to
terminate her parental rights in her absence, and that the
court erred when it found her unfit and abused its discretion
when it determined that terminating her parental rights is in
the best interest of the child. See id. We affirm the
The following facts are supported by competent evidence drawn
from the court's judgment and the procedural record.
See In re Children of Nicole M., 2018 ME 75, ¶
2, 187 A.3d 1.
The Department of Health and Human Services has been involved
since the early days of the child's life. The mother has
struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues,
unsteady housing, and domestic violence. In June 2016, the
court [Foster, J.) issued a jeopardy order as to her
On October 7, 2016, the Department filed its first petition
to terminate the mother's parental rights. On August 3,
2017, the court [Cantara, J.) denied the
Department's petition, noting that the mother was
"on the cusp of achieving all of the benchmarks of
prolonged sobriety, stability, appropriate housing,
employment and a sustained capacity to parent" her
On November 27, 2017, however, the Department filed a second
petition for termination of parental rights, citing the
mother's positive drug screen in September 2017, failure
to engage in mental health counseling, and lack of stable
housing. The Department served the mother with a copy of the
petition, which included a notice that a hearing on the
petition would be held on December 27, 2017, and that
[f]ailure to appear at [a] court hearing or court conferences
regarding this matter may be determined to indicate an intent
to abandon the child(ren) pursuant to 22 M.R.S.A.
§4002(1-A). A finding of abandonment may be the basis
for removal of a child from your custody and may ultimately
lead to termination of your parental rights.
November 27, 2017, the court also sent a separate notice to
the parties that a case management hearing ...