In re Interest of C.B. and M.B.

Caselaw Number
No. S-16-938
Filed On

SUMMARY: In 2012, the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County adjudicated Angel B.’s children, C.B. and M.B., and granted temporary custody of both to DHHS. Here, Angel appealed an order of the lower court to continue DHHS custody to the Supreme Court. 

C.B. and M.B. were born in 1998 and 2008, respectively. On August 1, 2012 the children were adjudicated by the juvenile court as (3)(a) cases due to C.B.’s having severe mental and behavioral health needs requiring immediate intervention for the safety and well-being of both minor children. It was concluded that Angel’s discipline methods placed both girls at risk of harm. M.B. remained in her mother’s physical care, while C.B. was placed out of home. A case plan was adopted two months later and several review hearings followed that saw custody continue to remain with DHHS. Eventually, C.B.’s permanency objective was changed from family preservation to guardianship and she moved in with her paternal grandparents in Ohio. Visits and communications with C.B. by M.B. and Angel proceeded positively. 

In April 2016, DHHS learned that M.B. had acted out during an overnight activity at school and her therapist stated that it was evidence that M.B. was not receiving a healthy environment or emotional security. Additional therapy was sought out and received. Around this same time DHHS ended services to M.B. and Angel and recommended legal custody return to Angel. However, the juvenile court continued to extend the grant of custody to DHHS. The court unfolded its reasoning over time to include that it wanted to ensure that fertile ground remained for a continued relationship between C.B. and M.B.; it wanted to ensure that M.B.’s recent behavioral issues had been fully addressed; and, that it wanted to wait until a guardianship had been established for C.B. or she had remained in her placement for six months. Angel appeals the latest order extending custody to DHHS and asserts that the juvenile court erred in failing to terminate its jurisdiction over M.B. 

In its analysis of the custody order, the Supreme Court stated that a dispositional order which merely continues a previous determination is not an appealable order. The order at issue here is exactly that and, therefore, not a final order. Despite some argument from the appellant about the length of time and attempts to close the case by DHHS, the Court concluded that the latest order extending custody to DHHS will not disturb Angel’s relationship with M.B for an unreasonable period of time, creating a lack of any substantial rights at issue needed to disrupt the lower courts order. Therefore, the order at issue is not a final appealable order and the Supreme Court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to address the assignment of error in the appeal. As a result, the appeal was dismissed.