In re Interest of Alyssa B.

Caselaw Number
Filed On

SUMMARY: Termination of a father’s parental rights was proper where there was evidence that the father had been offered numerous services but failed to take advantage of them and the father had numerous contacts with law enforcement officers and incarcerations. 

The State of Nebraska removed Alyssa (DOB 7/2010) shortly after her birth. Her father Harold was incarcerated at the time, but moved to intervene after his release in October 2010. Alyssa was placed back with her mother, Amanda, in April 2011. Alyssa was adjudicated May 2011 due to Harold’s failure to put himself in a position to care for her. Throughout the case, Harold had frequent contacts with law enforcement for issues such as physically assaulting Amanda, assaulting Amanda’s sister when she tried to help Amanda leave Harold, threatening a family support working, and felony fleeing arrest. The State filed a motion to terminate Harold’s parental rights December 4, 2012. At the termination hearing, Harold denied assaulting Amanda and testified that he had a good relationship with Alyssa, a full time job, and paid child support. Harold maintained he had everything he needed to parent Alyssa. In addition, Harold claimed he had ended his relationship with Amanda, despite evidence that the two were still in contact and had ongoing domestic violence issues. Family permanency specialists testified that Harold initially refused all services except for visitation with Alyssa. Harold did eventually complete a domestic violence class, parenting classes, and individual therapy with a licensed therapist. Harold was consistent and appropriate during visitations with Alyssa, but due to his frequent law enforcement contacts visits were never less restrictive than supervised. Harold’s therapist testified he provided individual therapy once a week and Harold was cooperative, but Harold required more therapy before being in a place to parent Alyssa. Alyssa’s foster mother testified that Alyssa had a good relationship with Harold and looked forward to her visits with him. During the termination proceedings, Harold was sentenced to 180 days incarceration. The juvenile court terminated Harold’s parental rights as to Alyssa.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination. First, reasonable efforts had failed to correct the conditions that led to the adjudication. Harold had been encourage to take advantage of the offered services but never fully did. Harold also continued to have a relationship with Amanda and had ongoing law enforcement involvement, including allegations of domestic violence. Termination was in Alyssa’s best interests because Harold only recently took steps to continue to be in Alyssa’s life. There was evidence that Harold could not stay away from Amanda, which continued to have detrimental effects on his life. The evidence supported termination of his parental rights.