In re Interest of Andreyona J.

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In re Interest of Andreyona J.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Monday, April 28, 2014

SUMMARY: Adjudication and termination of the father’s parental rights was proper where the child was in out-of-home care for more than two years prior to the motion to terminate parental rights and the father was aware that the child was removed from the home but had only sporadic contact with the child. 

In July 2009, the State filed a petition to adjudicate Adreyona as a result of the actions of her mother, Darcel. Darcel identified Gerald as Adreyona’s father and service was attempted on Gerald at various locations but was not effectuated. In May 2011, Adreyona was removed from Darcel’s care. Gerald’s first involvement in the case was in September 2012 when he filed a request for court-appointed counsel. Prior case reports indicated Gerald had contact with various caseworkers who informed Gerald that Adreyona was removed from the home and case reports were sent to Gerald’s home in Texas. Gerald had sporadic telephone contact with Adreyona and occasionally sent her gifts. Gerald traveled to Lincoln for one in-person visit with Adreyona in April 2013, but otherwise had no physical contact with her. Gerald continually reported difficulties obtaining stable employment. On February 28, 2013, the State filed a supplemental petition and motion for termination of Gerald’s parental rights. The termination hearing was originally set for June 25 and July 3, but Gerald filed a motion to continue because he had new counsel who needed more time to prepare. The motion was granted, but Gerald filed a second motion to continue two days before the August 16 hearing due to financial difficulties with traveling to Nebraska. This motion to continue was overruled. Gerald’s attorney made an oral motion at the hearing requesting that Gerald be able to testify telephonically; this motion was also overruled. The juvenile court adjudicated Adreyona and terminated Gerald’s parental rights.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the adjudication and termination of parental rights. The juvenile court did not err in overruling Gerald’s motions to continue or to testify telephonically because Gerald was afforded procedural due process. Gerald was given notice of the proceedings and was represented by his attorney who participated fully in the hearing on Gerald’s behalf. In addition, adjudicating Adreyona was proper because there was evidence that Gerald had knowledge of the juvenile proceedings since 2005, but had had very little contact with Adreyona. The termination of Gerald’s parental rights was also proper because Adreyona had been in an out-of-home placement for nearly 27 months by the time of the termination hearing. Termination was in Adreyona’s best interests because Gerald did not make any steps that would place him in a position to parent.