Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re L.N.D.

Supreme Court of Montana

August 21, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF: L.N.D. and T.N.D., Jr., Youths in Need of Care.

          Submitted on Briefs: August 8, 2018

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Nineteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Lincoln, Cause Nos. DN 15-10 and DN 15-11 Honorable Matthew J. Cuffe, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Briana E. Kottke, Stack & Kottke, PLLC, Missoula, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Marcia Boris, Lincoln County Attorney, Libby, Montana


         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 T.D. (Father) appeals from orders of the Nineteenth Judicial District Court, Lincoln County, terminating his parental rights to his minor children, L.N.D. and T.N.D. We affirm.

         ¶3 Father and W.L. (Mother) are the children's biological parents. In June 2015, the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division (the Department) removed the children from Mother's care due to development, hygiene, and safety concerns. More specifically, on numerous occasions spanning over a year-long period prior to removal, the Department observed the family home did not have running water or electricity, was filthy, had decaying food laying around, and had a bucket in the middle of the kitchen that served as the family's toilet. Additionally, both children were significantly developmentally delayed due, in part, to lack of parental stimulation. The Department attempted to remedy the problem by voluntarily working with Father and Mother, but the efforts were unsuccessful. When the Department removed the children, Father was incarcerated and was not the children's custodial parent. However, many of the conditions rendering the home unfit were present when Father lived in the home prior to his incarceration. The Department petitioned for Emergency Protective Services (EPS), Adjudication as Youth in Need of Care (YINC), and Temporary Legal Custody (TLC), basing its petition on numerous reports of abuse and neglect. The District Court granted EPS and Father subsequently stipulated to adjudication of the children as YINC and to TLC for six months.

         ¶4 In December 2015, the District Court extended TLC for another six months. Father and the Department also agreed to Father's Phase I Treatment Plan, which the District Court approved. The Phase I Treatment Plan accounted for Father's incarceration-its main objective was for Father to successfully complete his incarceration and it also required Father to stay in contact with the Department. In June 2016, the District Court extended TLC for a second time.

         ¶5 On August 1, 2016, Father completed the pre-release portion of his incarceration. Four months later, in December 2016, the Department petitioned to terminate Father's and Mother's parental rights. Mother voluntarily relinquished her parental rights. The District Court held Father's termination hearing in February 2017. At the termination hearing, Father testified that, while incarcerated, he completed various parenting and victim impact classes. Father further testified that, following his August 2016 release, he completed frequent visits with the children; timely attended his parole appointments; passed all drug tests; and obtained appropriate housing. The District Court declined to terminate Father's parental rights and instead decided to extend TLC for a third time, asking the Department to develop a Phase II Treatment Plan for Father.

         ¶6 Father agreed to, and the District Court approved, Father's Phase II Treatment Plan. The plan contained tasks designed to help Father achieve various objectives, including stabilizing his mental and emotional health; remaining drug and alcohol free; maintaining safe housing; improving his ability to meet the children's emotional and physical needs; and complying with parole conditions. The District Court held a review hearing in July 2017, at which the Department asked to continue TLC until September. Father did not object and the District Court extended TLC for a fourth time. Another review hearing occurred in September 2017, at which the Department advised the District Court that it planned to petition for termination of Father's parental rights, which it subsequently did.

         ¶7 In November 2017, the District Court held Father's second termination hearing. The Department and Father each presented multiple witnesses and Father testified on his own behalf. Ultimately, the District Court terminated Father's parental rights, finding Father failed to successfully complete his Phase II Treatment Plan and the conduct or condition rendering Father unfit was unlikely to change within a reasonable amount of time. The District Court further noted that the children had lived in foster care for more than twenty-nine months. Father appeals the District Court's termination of his parental rights.

         ¶8 We review a district court's decision to terminate parental rights for an abuse of discretion. In re A.S., 2016 MT 156, ¶ 11, 384 Mont. 41, 373 P.3d 848. A district court abuses its discretion when it acts arbitrarily, without employing conscientious judgment, or exceeds the bounds of reason, resulting in substantial injustice. In re K.A., 2016 MT 27, ¶ 19, 382 Mont. 165, 365 P.3d 478. We review findings of fact for clear error and conclusions of law for correctness. In re E.Z.C., 2013 MT 123, ¶ 19, 370 Mont. 116, 300 P.3d 1174. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous if it is not supported by substantial evidence, if the court misapprehended the effect ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.