In re Interest of Anthony P. & Dakota P.

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In re Interest of Anthony P. & Dakota P.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

SUMMARY: Termination of parental rights was proper where the mother failed to comply with services and showed an unwillingness to engage. 

On October 31, 2011, the State filed a petition under N.R.S. 43-247(3)(a) as to Dakota, DOB 1/99, and Anthony, DOB 7/01, due to the mother’s use of controlled substances. The mother, Maria, had agreed to a voluntary placement of the children with her mother on July 20, 2011, after she was arrested for possession of a controlled substance. However, her failure to submit to drug testing and to follow through on services led to the filing of the October 31 court petition. In February 2012, the case was tried on stipulated facts that Maria’s purse contained methamphetamine and was found in the children’s bedroom, that she tested positive for methamphetamine, and that she did not have safe and stable housing. The children were adjudicated and Maria was ordered to participate in dual-diagnosis therapy, cooperate with family support workers, submit to random drug testing, participate in therapy, maintain contact with DHHS and participate in family team meetings. Maria stopped contacting caseworkers after the February 2012 adjudication hearing and missed all of her scheduled UAs. Maria attended 2 of 10 family therapy sessions between February and June 2012, and had a physical altercation with Dakota in April 2012 where she put her hands around Dakota’s neck and had to be separated. The children’s therapist also had to physically intervene between Dakota and Maria after a verbal confrontation between them in June 2012. By July 2012, Maria was not attending visits and did not have another family therapy session until February 2013. Family support services stopped in April 2012 because Maria failed to maintain contact with the providers. By May 2012, Maria submitted to 2 of 6 scheduled UAs and attended 2 of 9 visits with the children. She also failed to provide the caseworkers with a current address or phone number and had no contact with caseworkers between May 2012 and October 2012. In December 2012, the State filed a motion to terminate Maria’s parental rights. Trial was held and, on June 3, 2013, the court terminated Maria’s parental rights. Maria appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of parental rights. It first found that the grounds under N.R.S. 43-292 had been satisfied because the children had lived out-of-home more than 15 of the past 22 months. As to best interests, the Court of Appeals found that Maria’s contact with her children had been extremely sporadic, that she had no stability in her life, that she was uncooperative with caseworkers, and that it did not seem Maria was able or willing to meet the children’s emotional or physical needs. Although the Court of Appeals noted some delays by the professionals in following through on services, “any shortcomings on the part of the professionals dealing with Maria were more than outweighed by Maria’s own failures and weaknesses in dealing with them.” Page 5.