In re Interest of Allen M. et al

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In re Interest of Allen M. et al

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Friday, January 17, 2014

SUMMARY: Termination of parents’ parental rights was in the children’s best interests where the children had been in foster care for approximately 70% of their lives and the father was mostly absent and made no effort to participate in services.

On February 11, 2011, the State of Nebraska filed a petition alleging ZaVyana (DOB 5/2007), Allen (DOB 4/2008), All’eana (DOB 4/2008) and N’eveah (DOB 10/2009) lacked proper parental care and Alexis, the mother, used inappropriate physical discipline. The children were adjudicated on May 27, 2011 after Alexis entered a plea of no contest to the allegations. On December 10, 2012, the State filed a motion to terminate Alexis’ parental rights. A supplemental petition to terminate Allen and All’eana’s father’s, Allen Sr., parental rights was filed the same day. At the termination hearing held May 24, 2013 and June 13, 2013, there was evidence that Alexis consistently participated in services such as visitation and family therapy. However, there was also evidence that Alexis did not internalize the services and continued to have anger issues. Alexis was incarcerated twice and had frequent altercations with support services staff. In addition, this was the second juvenile court case for the children. The children had been removed from the home after Allen and All’eana had tested positive for drugs at birth and remained out of Alexis’ care for 22 months; the children were returned only nine months before being removed again. There was evidence that Allen Sr. was mostly absent from the children’s lives and made no effort to participate in services. The juvenile court terminated Alexis’ and Allen Sr.’s parental rights on July 12, 2013.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of parental rights. The termination of Alexis’ parental rights was in the children’s best interests because the record showed that Alexis experienced continual difficulties throughout the case maintaining control of her anger and communicating with staff workers. The children had spent the majority of their lives in foster care, and there was no indication that Alexis has been able to correct her past behaviors. Allen had failed to comply with the established rules of filing an appeal or cross-appeal, so the Nebraska Court of Appeals reviewed the proceedings for plain error. The record showed that Allen had not made an effort to achieve reunification and was inconsistent with visitation. Termination of Allen’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests because Allen was unwilling to engage in services and made excuses for why he could not take physical custody of the children.