Dept. of Human Services v. J.A.M.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 04-22-2015
  • Case #: A156874
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; DeVore, J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 419B.504, when a parent is addicted to drugs and that drug abuse is deemed to be seriously detrimental to the child, the result of continued use of drugs (even those when prescribed by doctors if obtained by “doctor shopping”) can be enough to lead a court to conclude that the conditions will not be changed in a reasonable period of time. This is especially true when the parent is considered by professionals to be in denial of their drug addiction.

Father appealed a judgment terminating his parental rights to his daughter, H. The juvenile court found that because Father was an unfit parent, H could not safely be cared for by Father within a reasonable time, and H’s best interests are served by terminating Father's parental rights. Father is addicted to drugs and abuses many substances. He lives with his parents in an apartment that is not large enough to house the daughter and Father does not believe that he is an addict although he has not fully complied with treatment recommendations, he doctor shops, uses methadone, and continues to use benzodiazepines prescribed by half a dozen different doctors. When DHS came to investigate the living conditions for H they found eighty-four used syringes in Father’s room, some of which were well within H’s reach. Father contends that the trial court erred by determining that he is still an addict because he is no longer using heroin. The Court ruled that since Father received multiple prescriptions from six doctors and failed to inform them that he was currently using methadone, father is still addicted to drugs. Further, his denial of his addiction makes it unlikely that his condition will improve in a reasonable amount of time. Affirmed.

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