Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Jane Doe (“Mother”) appealed a magistrate court’s termination of her parental rights to her minor children, Jane Doe II (“T.T.”) and John Doe II (“D.T.”). The magistrate court found: (1) Mother had neglected her children; (2) Mother had abandoned her children; and (3) termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of the children. Because each of these findings was supported by clear and convincing evidence, the trial court granted Guardians’ request for termination. The trial court entered a final judgment to that effect on May 11, 2018. The Idaho Supreme Court determined: (1) Mother waived the issues of neglect and abandonment on appeal for failing to support them with argument; and (2) the trial court’s determination that termination was in the children’s best interests is supported by substantial, competent evidence. View "John and Jane Doe I v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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A mother placed her twelve-year-old son in the care of his grandparents on a full time basis in August 2017. Three months later the father petitioned the magistrate court to modify custody to grant him residential custody of his son. Although both Mother and Grandparents petitioned the court to give Grandparents residential custody, the magistrate court, during a hearing on father’s motion for temporary custody, determined that Grandparents did not have standing. Ruling from the bench, the magistrate court determined that Idaho Code section 32-717(3) on its face violated the father’s constitutional rights because it placed Grandparents on the same footing as parents. The magistrate court also reasoned that the more specific time requirements set forth in the De Facto Custodian Act, Idaho Code sections 32-1701–32- 1705 governed. On a motion for reconsideration, the magistrate court, pursuant to Hernandez v. Hernandez, 265 P.3d 495 (2011), decided that Grandparents likely could not meet the requirements of Idaho Code section 32- 717(3), reasoning that “[t]he court doubts that a short period of residence pursuant to an impermanent permission by one parent is a ‘stable relationship.’” Mother and Grandparents appealed the magistrate court’s decision to the Idaho Supreme Court, arguing the magistrate court’s decision was contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision in Hernandez. The Supreme Court agreed and vacated the magistrate’s order denying standing. The Court remanded with instructions to determine whether Child was living with Grandparents at the time they petitioned the court and whether a stable relationship existed between them. If yes, the Grandparents should be allowed to participate in the custody determination within the boundaries set forth in Hernandez. View "Overholser (Taylor) v. Overholser" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (Mother) appealed a magistrate court judgment terminating her parental rights to her three minor children: PG, KG, and BG. Near the end of February 2017, Mother, who was thirty-five weeks pregnant with BG, went into preterm labor while in jail. She was transported to a hospital but did not have the baby at that time. While at the hospital, she tested positive for methamphetamines. Around that time, KG was hospitalized to receive treatment for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Because Mother appeared to be under the influence of drugs when she visited KG in the hospital, the doctor called Child Protective Services over concerns that Mother could not adequately care for her child. After an investigation, the State of Idaho filed a petition to remove PG and KG from their home and they were placed into emergency shelter care on March 1, 2017. The children were three years old and one year old, respectively. BG was then born and placed in emergency shelter care on March 29, 2017, after testing positive for three kinds of opiates. Because Mother continued to use drugs, have other criminal issues, and made only minimal progress on her case plan after eight months, the State filed a petition to terminate her parental rights on November 28, 2017. Mother argued the magistrate court abused its discretion in determining that she neglected her children and that it was in the children’s best interest to terminate the parent-child relationship. Although Mother did not describe how the magistrate court abused its discretion or recite the abuse of discretion standard in her brief, the Idaho Supreme Court took her argument to be that substantial and competent evidence did not support the magistrate court’s findings. To this end, the Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed termination of her parental rights. View "DHW v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Idaho Supreme Court in this case was a magistrate court decision to deny a motion by Jane Doe (Mother), the biological mother of an adult, mentally-incapacitated child (Son) to set aside a decree of adoption declaring Jane Doe I (Step-Mother) to be a parent of Son. The decree was entered upon the joint petition for adoption filed by Son’s biological father (Father) and Step- Mother. Mother was not given notice of the proceedings. Upon learning of the adoption, she filed a motion to set aside the decree pursuant to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Father and Step-Mother did not respond to Mother’s 60(b) motion, which the magistrate court denied. In this direct appeal to the Supreme Court, Mother argued the lower court erred in denying her motion because notice to Mother and her consent was required. The Supreme Court concurred with Mother's contention that notice and consent was required. The Supreme Court reversed the magistrate court's denial, vacated the decree of adoption, and remanded this matter for further proceedings. View "In the Matter of Adoption by Step-Parent" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (Doe) appealed a magistrate court order in which protective custody of Doe’s three nieces and three nephews was awarded to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (Department). Following an adjudicatory hearing, the magistrate court found the children fell within the jurisdiction of the Child Protective Act (CPA) based on neglect, homelessness, and an unstable home environment. Doe stipulated during the hearing that it was in the best interests of the children to vest their custody with the Department. Doe appealed, alleging that the judge erred in concluding the children were neglected and that the Department made reasonable efforts to prevent removal. Doe also contended her right to due process was violated because she was unable to conduct substantive discovery. Based on the reasons set out in this opinion, the Supreme Court concluded there was no justiciable controversy presented. As a result, the Court dismissed Doe’s appeal because the issues raised were moot. View "Idaho v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (2018-24) (“Mother”) appealed a magistrate court’s decision to terminate her parental rights over her daughter (“K.O.”) on grounds of neglect after finding it was in K.O.’s best interest. On appeal Mother contested the magistrate court’s findings that: (1) early permanency for K.O. was appropriate and a continuance of trial was not warranted; and (2) that mother neglected K.O. and it was in the best interest of K.O. to terminate Mother’s rights. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found the magistrate court did not abuse its discretion in failing to continue the trial. Additionally, substantial and competent evidence, to a clear and convincing standard, supported the magistrate court’s decision that Mother neglected K.O. and it was in K.O.’s best interest to terminate Mother’s parental rights. View "IDHW v. Jane Doe (2018-24)" on Justia Law

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John Doe was the biological father of minor child, J.G. J.G. was conceived in Oklahoma about a month before Doe began serving a thirty-five year prison sentence. J.G. was born in 2011. Doe saw J.G. one time when she was less than twenty months old when someone brought the child to the prison to see him. J.G. and her mother moved to Idaho in approximately 2013. In August 2016, law enforcement removed J.G. and her half-brother from their mother’s care and placed them in shelter care after determining they were in imminent danger. After an adjudicatory hearing, the magistrate court determined it was in the best interest of the children to vest legal custody in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Eventually the Department and the guardian ad litem for J.G. recommended termination of Mother and Doe’s parental rights. Doe’s termination hearing took place in January 2018. The magistrate court determined that Doe will likely be incarcerated for a substantial period of time during J.G.’s minority and that termination was in the child’s best interest. Doe appealed. But the Idaho Supreme Court concurred with the magistrate court that there was substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate court’s determination that Doe would likely be incarcerated during a substantial period of time during J.G.’s minority and that termination was in the child’s best interests. View "Health & Welfare v. John Doe (2018-17)" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”). Both of Jane’s parents passed away in 2017. Thereafter, a family friend with whom Jane and her mother had been living, (“Friend”), petitioned for guardianship. Jane’s father’s twin sister (“Aunt”) also petitioned for guardianship. During proceedings the magistrate court appointed a local attorney, Auriana Clapp-Younggren, to serve as both the attorney and the guardian ad litem for Jane. After trial, the magistrate court followed Clapp-Younggren’s recommendation and awarded temporary guardianship to Friend so that Jane could finish the school year, but appointed Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian. Friend appealed the magistrate court decision. The Supreme Court determined the magistrate court abused its discretion by failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. Here, the magistrate court checked two boxes on the form order appointing Clapp- Younggren: one box appointed her as the attorney for Jane and the other appointed her as Jane’s guardian ad litem. Friend later filed a motion for the magistrate court to appoint an attorney for Jane under Idaho Code section 15-5-207(7). This motion was accompanied by an affidavit of a psychotherapist who testified that Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. However, the judge denied the motion simply stating “I’m denying the motion. Ms. Clapp-Younggren is going to represent [Jane’s] interests in the case.” The magistrate court judge gave no explanation for why he was denying the request. The record also reflects that the magistrate court made no effort to determine Jane’s maturity level. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian is vacated and the case is remanded so that the magistrate court can conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possesses sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to the new trial. View "In the Interest of Jane Doe II (under 18 years)" on Justia Law

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Amelia Johnson, fka Boe (Mother), brought a permissive appeal seeking to challenge custody and support orders issued by the magistrate court in hers and Erik Boe's divorce. Mother and Father divorced in 2010 and, at that time, stipulated to a joint-custody arrangement regarding their two minor children, L.R.B. and L.E.B. (collectively, the Children). That custody arrangement governed until 2015, when Father relocated from Southeast Boise to Meridian. The moved caused disputes over physical and legal custody, which schools the Children should attend, and issues pertaining to child support. A two-year course of litigation ensued, with Mother and Father ultimately stipulating to a partial judgment that resolved physical custody and trying issues concerning legal custody, the Children’s schools, and child support to the magistrate court. As relevant here, the magistrate court ruled that the Children were to attend the schools assigned to Father’s Meridian, Idaho home (the Meridian Schools), and that Mother and Father were each entitled to one dependency exemption. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined Mother's challenges concerning physical custody were moot: the challenges themselves did not create a real, substantial controversy for the Court to resolve. Further, the Court determined the magistrate court did not err by assigning the Children to the Meridian Schools, nor did it abuse discretion in allocating the two dependency exemptions. View "Boe v. Boe" on Justia Law

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Marya Woods (Mother) appealed the denial of her petition for modification of the custody schedule for her two minor children: H.W. (Son) and T.W. (Daughter). Both Karl Woods (Father) and Mother sought to modify the schedule. The magistrate court denied both parents’ petitions to modify based upon its finding that there existed no substantial, permanent, or material changes that warranted modification of the custody arrangement. On appeal, Mother argued the magistrate court abused its discretion in finding no substantial or material change existed. Finding no reversible error in the magistrate court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed: the magistrate court’s finding that there was no substantial and material change in circumstance was supported by substantial and competent evidence. View "Woods v. Woods" on Justia Law