May 04, 2021

New Hampshire

DEPENDENCY

PARENT REPRESENTATION

In re C.M., 48 A.3d 942 (N.H. 2012). After the legislature repealed a statute providing attorneys for indigent parents in child abuse and neglect cases, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found there was no per se constitutional right to appointed counsel, but that courts should determine on a case-by-case basis whether due process requires appointment. FULL SUMMARY

DELINQUENCY

GROUNDS

In re D.B., 53 A.3d 646 (N.H. 2012). Youth who was found delinquent did not ‘overcome’ his victim with physical force required for sexual assault charge. Although youth fondled a classmate without her consent, he used no force greater than required to commit the unwelcome touching during the incident. Though his actions may have met the grounds for a lesser charge, holding that no greater force than is inherent in the sexual contact is required would effectively remove the physical force section from the statute.

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

ABANDONMENT

In re Deven O., 82 A.3d 229 (N.H. 2013).Trial court erred in terminating father’s parental rights for abandonment and finding he had failed to visit or communicate with child for six-month period. Father had visited several times a week before that period. During that period, he had emailed or texted mother and the grandparent trying to visit child. He also filed a petition seeking visitation. 

BEST INTERESTS

In re Sophia-Marie H., 77 A.3d 1139 (N.H. 2013). In case where mother petitioned to terminate father’s rights, trial court erred in finding termination would be in the child’s best interests. Fact that five-year- old child had little bond with father was given inappropriate weight where mother had thwarted father’s attempts to maintain contact and mother’s claim that his reestablishing contact would be disruptive to child was only supported by mother’s testimony.

REPRESENTATION

In re Jack L., 20 A.3d 332 (N.H. 2011). Trial court was not required to appoint guardians ad litem for parents in addition to attorneys in termination of parental rights proceeding; even if parents had demonstrated a need for additional assistance complying with agency plans, no injury was shown because parents left state and never began any effort to start working on plans.

VISITATION

GRANDPARENTS

In re Rupa, 13 A.3d 307 (N.H. 2010). Although trial court considered child’s best interest when deciding to continue overnight visits with grandparents, it was not clear that it gave due deference to mother’s determination of child’s best interests or if visits would affect parent-child relationship, requiring remand; trial court did have statutory authority to award grandparents telephonic access to child and order mother to share in transportation responsibilities as part of its visitation order.

GROUNDS

In re S.T., 2016 WL 6989394 (N.H.). Child welfare agency filed termination of parental rights petition based on mother’s conviction for second degree assault of her child and subsequent incarceration. Following reversal of conviction, mother filed motion for reconsideration of order entered while direct criminal appeal was pending. As matter of first impression, court found terms “conviction” and “convicted” in termination statute meant affirmance of guilt on direct appeal. Termination of mother’s rights was therefore improper.