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State v. Fahnley, 2015 WL 4081569 (Maine). Fourteen-year-old victim’s delayed complaint of sexual abuse to his mother, made after he turned 18, was admissible under first complaint rule. Statements admissible as first complaints and as prior consistent statements are distinct. First complaint statements cannot include anything other than bare assertion of assault, while prior consistent statements may include more details.



C.L. v. L.L., 2015 WL 5935467 (Me.). Ex-husband appealed determination he was not de facto parent of ex-wife’s eight-year-old daughter in both child protection and divorce cases. Ex-husband was not de facto parent in child protection proceeding because he had not previously been ruled de facto parent in family matter. He did not establish permanent and responsible parental role in child’s life nor any exceptional circumstances sufficient to allow court to interfere with legal parent’s rights. 


In re Ciara H., 30 A.3d 835 (Me. 2011). Evidence was insufficient to establish mother’s unfitness where her teenaged daughter did not want to remain at home. Though mother’s attempts to improve her relationship with her daughter were unsuccessful, she made extensive efforts establishing that there was not a failure to provide adequate care.



In re Guardianship of Chamberlain, 2015 WL 3814360 (Maine). Children were in care of maternal grandmother before and after death of their mother. Father appealed grandmother’s appointment as guardian because statutory provision relied on lower standard of preponderance of evidence. By allowing lower standard, statute failed to adequately protect father’s procedural due process rights. Order appointing guardian under statute can be entered only after court has made findings applying clear and convincing standard of proof.


In re Z.S., 2015 WL 4731341 (Maine). Disposition order placing child in child welfare agency’s custody and ordering agency to have child undergo full medical evaluation and approve vaccinations for child deemed appropriate by pediatrician, against mother’s wishes, was not appealable. Mother had left two other jurisdictions to avoid further agency involvement and to reunite with father, despite domestic violence and potential threat to child. Mother refused all efforts to vaccinate child because she refused to accept scientific facts and deprived child of necessary medical care for hernia.



In re A.H., 77 A.3d 1012 (Me. 2013). District court properly determined that termination was in child’s best interests where she had medical problems affecting internal organs which required constant supervision which the parents, who had cognitive impairments, could not provide. Despite their consistent love and affection, the parents had been unable to learn to provide the care in home that kept child from being hospitalized.

In re C.P., 67 A.3d 558 (Me. 2013). Trial court did not err in finding termination was in children’s best interests. Though adoption may be more challenging in the case of siblings aged 10 and 13 who wish to be placed together, the court considered their needs, treatment, wishes, and progress and could reasonably determine adoption would be possible and preferable to long-term foster care and that a continuing relationship with their parents was harmful. 


In re Magdalena, 2016 WL 4195015 (Maine). Evidence supported finding mother failed to meet goals of reunification, as prerequisite for termination of parental rights, despite mother’s claim scheduled visits with children conflicted with her employment schedule. Mother admitted missed visits were mostly her fault because she forgot to call for transportation arranged by child welfare agency or confirm her plan to show up for visits. Father also failed to comply with reunification plan, supporting termination of his parental rights.


In re H.C., 82 A.3d 80 (Me. 2013). Trial court properly terminated parents’ rights based on consent. Court had a lengthy conversation with each parent to assure they made the decision knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently and their claim that they only made the decision based on a fraudulent ‘deal’ where the oldest child would be placed with a relative was contradicted by the facts that parents were clearly advised that the plan was not certain.


In re Cameron Z., 2016 WL 6596022 (Maine). Parents appealed termination of their parental rights to four children. Evidence was sufficient to support finding of mother’s unfitness. She had longstanding substance abuse problem, had opportunity to participate in numerous services offered to reunify with children, and was unwilling to end her relationship with father, who had engaged in domestic violence.

In re J.H., 108 A.3d 1271 (Me. 2015). Father’s act of fatally shooting mother in full view of oldest child gave rise to presumption of placing child in jeopardy as ground for terminating parental rights even though he did not inflict physical injury on child. Father acted toward and failed to protect oldest son from profound emotional injury in manner that was heinous and abhorrent to society.

In re J.V., 2015 WL 9306959 (Me.). Clear and convincing evidence in termination of parental rights case showed father was unfit parent. Father involved seven-year-old child in violent domestic assault by having him sharpen knives that he was told would be used to murder father’s ex-girlfriend. Emotional damage done to child was demonstrated in court through his flat affect and need to apologize.



In re Adden B., 2016 WL 3905909 (Maine). Father’s departure from termination of parental rights hearing due to alleged illness was voluntary, and trial court proceeding with hearing after father’s departure did not violate due process. Court questioned father’s credibility as to illness, provided father opportunity to have de novo hearing if he verified health condition with medical documentation within week, which father failed to do, and father’s attorney represented his interest during hearing.

In re C.P., 2016 WL 308874 (Maine). Parents’ due process rights were not violated in termination of parental rights proceeding when trial court adopted order drafted by child welfare agency’s counsel verbatim. Court considered three days of testimony, findings entered were fully supported in record, mother did not attend trial, and father conceded his unfitness. Further, careful analysis by successor judge who entered amended judgment reaffirming termination minimized any prejudice that could have arisen from mechanism used to generate initial judgment.

In re I.S., 2015 WL 4622723 (Maine). Father appealed termination of parental rights to medically fragile daughter. Father was provided due process required in context of termination proceedings, even though timeframe for attempted reunification was affected by delay in his identification as child’s biological father. Father’s cooperation was inconsistent, and his mental health problems, including self-harming behaviors and suicidal ideation, would significantly affect his ability to parent. 

In re Zoey P., 2017 WL 3027547 (Maine). Mother received adequate notice of termination of parental rights hearing, therefore her due process rights were not violated. She was served in-hand with termination petition and notice of hearing was issued one month before hearing. Record showed child welfare agency and court-appointed counsel tried to contact mother many times.


In re Daniel H., 2017 WL 1882608 (Maine). Father appealed termination of parental rights, arguing child welfare agency failed to provide referrals for all services. Evidence sufficiently showed agency made numerous mental health and substance abuse referrals but father failed to engage. Court also acknowledged compliance was only one factor to consider for termination and other factors (his violent history, unemployment, pending criminal charges limiting contact with child) outweighed agency’s failure to make all referrals.


In re I.R., 2015 WL 4529631 (Maine). Mother appealed termination of parental rights to child. Despite grandmother’s claim that child and mother were members of Seminole tribe, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply absent evidence that mother or child were enrolled in any Indian tribe or nation. Trial court’s finding of parental unfitness was supported by evidence that mother never cared for child since birth, lacked any understanding of child’s needs, and failed to make any effort to rehabilitate and reunify with child.


In re Alijah K., 2016 WL 4527584 (Maine). Father who was incarcerated out of state was found unfit to parent in termination of parental rights proceeding. Father’s incarceration extended beyond termination proceeding, location of prison severely restricted opportunity for visits, and there was no longstanding father-child relationship. Parent unable to fulfill parental responsibilities due to incarceration is entitled to no more protection from termination of parental rights than parent unable to fulfill parental responsibilities as result of mental illness, substance abuse, or other reason.

In re Daphne, 2016 WL 640775 (Maine). In considering fitness of incarcerated father in context of terminating parental rights, court’s focus is not on usual parental responsibility for physical care and support of child, but on parent’s responsibility or capacity to provide nurturing parental relationship using means available. Rule does not suggest incarcerated parents be treated differently than other parents who may be unavailable to care for child, and it does not bar incarcerated parents from having parental rights terminated.


In re N.W., 70 A.3d 1219 (Me. 2013). Trial court did not err in denying great-aunt’s motion to intervene where record showed that intervention might unduly delay the child’s permanency since she had already had an opportunity to adopt her grand-niece or establish a guardianship for the two years she had had placement of her and had failed to complete either process.


In re Jesse B., 2017 WL 1900339 (Maine). Supreme court upheld termination of mother and father’s parental rights based on unfitness to address child’s medical conditions. Child had chronic, severe medical conditions including developmental delays, needed unusually high degree of care, and parents missed over half of child’s medical appointments. Parents used marijuana daily, had no intention to modify their behavior, and had not completed therapy or substance abuse treatment.


In re Aiden, 2016 WL 611058 (Maine). Mother and father appealed termination of their parental rights to children. Father failed to make good faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with his three children. Even though there was no expert testimony regarding mother’s mental health diagnoses, mother testified to her own diagnoses and she was inconsistent in her medicine management and treatment. Appellate court denied parents’ appeal and affirmed termination order.

In re Ashlyn L., 2017 WL 1739445 (Maine). Mother appealed termination of her parental rights to 13-month-old child, who lived in foster care with maternal grandparents and older sister since two days of age. Evidence was sufficient to show mother was unwilling or unable to protect child and circumstances were unlikely to change, could not take responsibility of child within reasonable time, and failed to make good faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with child. Mother had significant, untreated mental health issues and refused to get help. She rejected parenting advice, and parental coaching and therapy were discontinued due to her failure to cooperate or engage.


In re Soriah B., 8 A.3d 1256 (Me. 2010). Psychological reports expressing experts’ opinions in termination proceedings were not business records admissible under hearsay exception; reports offered professional opinions and evaluations based on facts and observations undertaken specifically to evaluate and treat mother and did not represent information recorded during the course of business.


In re Alexandria C., 2016 WL 7406735 (Maine). Mother filed motion for relief from judgment terminating her parental rights based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Child welfare agency found mother, who had been involved in contested divorce, took series of graphic and abusive photographs of her daughter and declined to participate in any way in reunifying with child. Evidence showed mother’s attorney informed her of options and associated risks and assisted with tactical decisions. Court denied mother’s motion because she provided no evidence creating reasonable probability of different outcome of termination hearing.

In re Aliyah M., 2016 WL 3677759 (Maine).Mother appealed order terminating her parental rights, asserting evidence was insufficient to support court’s judgment and she was denied effective assistance of counsel. Dismissal of appellate claim was proper because mother failed to comply with procedural requirements by filing signed and sworn affidavit with specific basis for claim. Trial counsel’s alleged failure to present specific evidence did not prejudice mother. Omitted evidence was limited in scope and significance, and examination of entire record revealed evidence would not have changed court’s finding of parental unfitness.

In re M.P., 2015 WL 6652624 (Me.). As a matter of first impression, a direct appeal from an order terminating parental rights could include a claim that the parent’s attorney provided ineffective assistance if the record was sufficient to permit a fair evaluation of the parent’s claim. The Strickland test, requiring proof of counsel’s deficient performance as well as prejudice, rather than “fundamental fairness” standard, applied in evaluating the claim. 

In re Mackenzie P., 2017 WL 2687419 (Maine). In termination of parental rights proceeding, mother was not prejudiced by any violation of her due process rights resulting from guardian ad litem’s (GAL) in-person contact with children outside of three-month requirement and late report. At mother’s request, trial court prevented prejudice by excluding GAL’s testimony and untimely report. Given mother’s failure to progress in reunifying with children, termination of parental rights was narrowly tailored to achieve permanency for children.


In re D.P., 65 A.3d 1216 (Me. 2013). Mother, who sought to terminate her own rights without a hearing after sexual abuse allegations were made, did not have standing to file termination petition. Statute allowed custodian or the agency to file for termination and mother was not a custodian after removal. FULL SUMMARY


In re D.C., 112 A.3d 938 (Me. 2015). Evidence was sufficient to support termination of parental rights determination that father was unfit and termination was in children’s best interests. Father failed to refrain from abusing illegal substances, failed to appear for scheduled drug screenings, tested positive for illegal substances, and failed to attend substance abuse treatment. He failed to maintain consistent, positive visitation with children, develop parenting skills, or obtain and maintain appropriate housing.

In re Logan M., 2017 WL 444043 (Maine). Evidence in proceeding to terminate mother’s parental rights supported her unfitness. Mother had longstanding history of substance abuse, insisted she could drink alcohol because it was legal even though she had addictive personality, and required mental health counseling. She caused significant distress to one of her two children and could not ensure their safety.

In re R.M., 2015 WL 1381505 (Maine). Mother appealed termination of parental rights after child was removed from her care when he was born addicted to opiates. Although mother did not abuse or neglect child since birth, she was unwilling/unable to protect him and refused to cooperate with child welfare agency or attend court proceedings. Court properly considered mother’s prior history and her refusal or inability to have contact with the child. 


In re M.E., 2016 WL 74742 (Me.). Termination of father’s parental rights was in child’s best interest. Father failed to understand seriousness of child’s medical condition and refused to follow medical instructions of child’s health care providers. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoid personality disorder. During time child protection proceedings were pending, father refused to comply with any rehabilitation and reunification requirements.