In re Interest of Brook P. et. al

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In re Interest of Brook P. et. al

Caselaw No.
10 Neb. App. 577
Filed on
Sunday, October 2, 2011

SUMMARY: Evidence that parents had a long history of drug abuse that was harming the children was sufficient to support a termination of parental rights. Though the parents were not advised of the possibility of termination prior to admitting to the allegations in the petition, they failed to directly appeal the adjudication order.

On 6/9/2000, a petition was filed as to Brook (DOB: 1/11/1994), Tanner (DOB: 4/27/1996), and Molly (DOB: 2/13/2000) alleging the mother’s, Robyn, and father’s, Nathan, drug abuse placed the kids at risk of harm. An adjudication hearing was held on 6/19. The court advised Robyn and Nathan of their rights, but failed to advise them that the termination of their parental rights was a potential consequence of adjudication. Robyn and Nathan admitted to the allegations in the petition, and the court adjudicated all three children. A motion to terminate Robyn and Nathan’s parental rights was filed 8/29/2000. At the termination trial held on 12/7 and 12/8, evidence was introduced of the parents’ long history of involvement with the department and failure to abstain from drugs. The court terminated Robyn and Nathan’s parental rights on 12/27/2000.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of parental rights. Though adequate notice of potential consequences is required before a court can accept an in-court admission, Robyn and Nathan did not timely appeal the adjudication order. The defect in the prior advisement did not taint the subsequent termination because the court could act as if there was no adjudication. There were significant due process safeguards in place, so the court did have jurisdiction to terminate parental rights. The evidence clearly and convincingly showed that the use of drugs rendered Robyn and Nathan unfit parents, so the termination was proper.