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In re Child of Scott L.

Supreme Court of Maine

July 2, 2019

IN RE CHILD OF SCOTT L.

          Submitted On Briefs: June 26, 2019

          Kevin P. Sullivan, Esq., Sullivan Law, P.C., Gardiner, for appellant father

          Aaron M. Frey, 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] Scott L. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Waterville, Montgomery, J.) terminating his parental rights to his child pursuant to 22M.R.S. §4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(ii) (2018).[1] He challenges the court's determination that termination of his parental rights is in the child's best interest. See id. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a). We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts are drawn from the court's findings, which are supported by competent record evidence, and from the procedural record. See In re Children of Corey W., 2019 ME 4, ¶ 2, 199 A.3d 683.

         [¶3] In March of 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services filed a petition for a child protection order and preliminary protection order, requesting that the court place the child-who was three years old at the time-in the temporary custody of the Department. See 22 M.R.S. §§4032, 4034(1) (2018). The petition alleged that the child was in jeopardy due, in part, to the father's lengthy criminal history as well as his current unavailability to parent the child because he was incarcerated. The court [Stanfill, J.) issued a preliminary protection order and ordered that the child be placed in departmental custody.

         [¶4] In April of 2017, the court entered an agreed-upon jeopardy order as to the father based on the father's ongoing incarceration, his never having been the child's primary caregiver, and the issuance of an order for protection from abuse against the father in an action filed by the mother after he threatened to kidnap the child. See 22 M.R.S. § 4035 (2018).

         [¶5] The Department arranged a trial placement of the child in the father's home from February to May of 2018, but that placement ended unsuccessfully for the reasons described below, and the child was returned to foster care, where she has since remained.

         [¶6] During the summer of 2018, the Department petitioned to terminate the father's parental rights. See 22 M.R.S. §4052 (2018). The following November, the court [Montgomery, /.) held a hearing on the petition. The witnesses included several of the child's therapists and support workers, departmental caseworkers, the child's foster mother, the father and his therapist, and the guardian ad litem. The court subsequently entered a judgment terminating the father's parental rights supported by its determination, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the father had been unwilling or unable to take responsibility for the child and would be unlikely to do so within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs. See 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(ii). The court also determined that termination of the father's parental rights is in the child's best interest. See id. §4055(1)(B)(2)(a).

         [¶7] The court made the following factual findings, all of which are supported by competent record evidence. See In re Child of Jonathan D., 2019 ME14, ¶5, 200A, 3d799.

At the time of the jeopardy hearing, [the father] was incarcerated for Aggravated Furnishing of Scheduled Drugs. He was sentenced to two years, all but six months suspended. [The father] has an extensive criminal history, which includes multiple theft and ...

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