Dept. of Human Services v. C. M. K.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 03-25-2015
  • Case #: A157272
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. For the Court; DeVore, J.; and Garrett J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Patterns of drug abuse and failures to complete counseling all demonstrate a pattern that is likely to repeat itself and thus a court can find future detriment to children.

Parents separately appeal judgments terminating their parental rights to their children, I and K, both four years old at the time of trial. The juvenile court determined that parents were unfit under ORS 419B.504 because they were unable to provide minimally adequate parenting at the time of trial and would not be able to do so within a time that was reasonable for I and K due to conduct or conditions that were not likely to change. On appeal, both parents contend that the court erred in concluding that the Department of Human Services (DHS) proved that (1) they were unfit at the time of trial, (2) the children could not be returned to their care within a reasonable amount of time, and (3) it was in the children’s best interests to terminate parental rights. The facts of the case are as follows; Between 2009 and 2011 mother and father had intermittent periods of sobriety and drug use, interspersed were incidents of domestic violence around the children. Between 2012 and 2013 parents were using methamphetamine and there were multiple instances of domestic violence including father shooting mother in the neck with a BB gun and father slapping the mother. Both mother and father periodically engaged in treatment never fully completing treatment. During that time period mother and father would hit another child C. Mother and father also were diagnosed with mental health issues. On appeal Father contended that DHS failed to prove that he was unfit at the time of trial or, alternatively, that he could not become fit within a short time period. In addition father argued that the other issues (abuse, homelessness, drug use) were being appropriately dealt with. The Court of Appeals found that DHS had proven by clear and convicting evidence that at the time of trial, father’s past drug abuse, domestic violence, personality disorder, and general instability continued to present conduct or a condition that is seriously detrimental to the children. On appeal mother argued that DHS failed to prove any detriment to the children at the time of trial. She argued that she had then been clean and sober for four months and had not used methamphetamine for 10 months, and that she was engaged in counseling. The Court cited mothers years long history with drug abuse and failure to complete counseling. The Court found that it was in the best interest of the children to terminate parental rights. Affirmed.

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