Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court modifying the terms of Appellant's divorce from Appellee as to parental rights and responsibilities for the parties' two children, holding that the district court erred in determining that the parties agreed to the terms of the modified divorce judgment. After the parties divorced, they both moved to modify the judgment as to parental rights and responsibilities. The parties and the guardian ad litem then engaged in a judicial settlement conference, after which the court stated that an agreement was reached. The court then entered a judgment purporting to memorialize that agreement without creating any record that would show the terms of any such agreement and the parties' confirmation of it. Appellant moved for relief from the judgment, arguing that the judgment did not accurately reflect the parties' agreement. The court denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding that, in the absence of a factual record from which to determine whether the modified divorce judgment accurately reflects the parties' agreement, the court's findings that the parties reached a full agreement were clearly erroneous. View "Bahn v. Small" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii), (iv), holding that the standard of proof in termination of parental rights cases is constitutionally adequate. On appeal, Mother argued that parental unfitness be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and that the statutory standard burden of proof of clear and convincing evidence was constitutionally insufficient. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) there is no reason to overturn precedent holding that the standard of proof of clear and convincing evidence is constitutionally sufficient in termination of parental rights cases; and (2) the court acted within its discretion in terminating Mother's parental rights. View "In re Child of Shayla S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father to their child, holding that the court did not clearly err in finding both parents unfit and did not abuse its discretion in concluding that termination of the parents' rights was in the best interest of the child. Specifically, the Court held (1) the court did not Cleary err in finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Father was unable or unwilling to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for the child within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs; and (2) even if placing the child in an adoptive home may be challenging, the court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that termination of both parents' rights was in the best interest of the child. View "In re Child of Carl D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 4055(1)(B)(2)(a) and (b)(i)-(ii), holding that the district court's judgment was not an abuse of discretion. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the court's findings of parental unfitness; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the court's determination that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interest; (3) the court did not commit clear error or abuse its discretion in determining that termination was in the child's best interest; and (4) the court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Mother's motions for a new trial or to reopen the evidence. View "In re Child of Erica H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the court's finding that termination was in the child's best interest, and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in terminating Mother's parental rights instead of ordering a permanency guardianship. Specifically, the Court held (1) Mother's due process rights were not violated when the court commenced the termination hearing , as scheduled, in Mother's absence; (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in ordering a permanency guardianship rather than a termination of Mother's parental rights; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the court's findings. View "In re Children of Danielle F." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father's parental rights to his two children, holding that competent record evidence supported the court's determinations and that the court did not err by terminating Father's parental rights. After a termination hearing, the district court determined that Father was parentally unfit and that termination of Father's parental rights was in the children's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court's determinations were predicated on supported factual findings and the application of the requisite standard of proof, that Father was parentally unfit, and that termination of Father's parental rights was in the best interests of the children. View "In re Children of Anthony N." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her three children, holding that the record supported the court's findings and that the court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the children's best interests. Following a hearing, the district court terminated Mother's parental rights based on its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mother was unable to protect the children from jeopardy or take responsibility for the children within a time reasonably calculated to meet their needs, that Mother failed to make a good faith effort at reunification, and that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the children's best interests. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the district court's judgment. View "In re Children of Melissa S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father's parental rights to his children, holding that the court did not err or abuse its discretion by finding that Father was unfit and that termination of Father's parental rights was in the best interests of the children. Specifically, the Court held (1) the court's findings were supported by competent evidence in the record; (2) the court did not err in determining that Father was unable or unwilling to protect the children from jeopardy within a time reasonably calculated to meet the children's needs; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Father's parental rights was in the best interests of the children. View "In re Children of Anthony L." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her two children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (B)(2)(a)-(b)(i), (iv), holding that the district court did not commit clear error in terminating Mother's parental rights. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence admitted at the termination hearing was sufficient to support the court's unfitness finding; (2) the court's best interest findings did not constitute factual errors or an abuse of discretion because, contrary to Mother's argument, the court's findings were not predicated solely on an assumption that the grandmother would adopt the children; and (3) the procedural interaction between the probate court and the district court did not deprive Mother of due process. View "In re Children of Bethmarie R." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her two children, holding that the district court did not err its findings of unfitness and its best interest determination. The Department of Health and Human Services petitioned for the termination of Mother's parental rights to both of her children. The court subsequently terminated Mother's rights to the children. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court's factual findings of unfitness and best interest were not clearly erroneous; and (2) the court's ultimate determination of best interest was not an abuse of discretion. View "In re Children of Christine A." on Justia Law