In re Damion H. and Alexandria J.

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In re Damion H. and Alexandria J.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SUMMARY: The father’s ongoing alcohol use that prevents him from properly parenting and the mother’s protection of the father and failure to protect the children from him establish that it was proper to terminate the parents’ parental rights. 

Alexandria J., DOB 12/92, and Damion H., DOB 9/96 were removed from the parental home on May 7, 2007, after the school observed multiple bruises on Damion’s body and Damion revealed that Mark beat him. Mark is the father of Damion and stepfather of Alexandria. Tara is the mother of both children. On October 2, 2007, the parents entered an admission pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a) relating to inappropriate and excessive physical contact. On January 30, 2008, the parents were ordered to complete a plan of disposition relating to Mark’s alcohol use, Tara’s codependence and their relationship. Mark attended therapy but made little progress and continued to regularly use alcohol as shown by random drug tests and his showing up intoxicated to a visit. Tara continued her relationship with Mark, ended therapy with Alexandria and continued to choose Mark over the protection of the children. On August 12, 2008, a petition to terminate parental rights was filed as to both parents. Trial was held on multiple dates and on May 22, 2009, the court terminated the parents’ parental rights. The parents appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the terminations. As to Tara, the Court noted that in 24 months she continued to have a relationship with Mark, made little progress in her codependency issues, blamed Alexandria for the family’s problems, and failed to show she could protect the children. It noted that Tara consistently put Mark’s needs ahead of the children’s and did not understand how her behavior affected the children. As to Mark, the Court found that he has a chronic and ongoing problem with alcohol that has not substantially changed since the children were removed from his care and that he continued to abuse alcohol on a regular basis.