In re Interest of Elijah P. et. al

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In re Interest of Elijah P. et. al

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SUMMARY: Termination of a mother’s parental rights was supported by evidence that the mother was provided numerous services, but made limited progress in dealing with mental health issues and parenting skills.

The State of Nebraska removed Elijah (DOB 6/2006), Airion (DOB 9/2007) and Aryiona (DOB 12/2009) from Jennifer’s care in April of 2010. A petition filed April 10, 2010 alleged Jennifer placed her children at risk of harm due to neglect; Elijah, Airion and Aryiona were adjudicated July 21, 2010. James (DOB 4/2011) and Jayvion (DOB 5/2012) were also removed from Jennifer’s care and adjudicated September 7, 2011 and December 4, 2012, respectively. A motion to terminate Jennifer’s parental rights was filed December 21, 2012. At the termination hearing held March 27 through March 29, 2013, there was evidence that Jennifer failed to address her mental health issues. Though Jennifer did attend therapy, her attendance was erratic and she often insisted that she did not need help. Jennifer’s therapist testified that she did take responsibility for not properly caring for Elijah. Elijah’s therapist testified that Elijah had an adjustment disorder, but his behavioral problems improved once visits with Jennifer were reduced. There was also evidence that Jennifer had difficulty accepting criticism and engaging with the children on visits, although her attendance at visitation was consistent. Jennifer never progressed to unsupervised visits due to her difficulties supervising and disciplining the children. In addition, Jennifer never set up developmental disabilities services because she claimed she did not need the help. Jennifer did always have proper housing and income, but made poor progress on her other goals. The juvenile court terminated Jennifer’s parental rights on April 4, 2013.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of parental rights. The four older children had been out of the home for more than fifteen of the previous twenty-two months, and reasonable efforts had failed to correct Jennifer’s issues with her youngest child. The evidence showed that Jennifer made limited progress and was resistant to family support services, therapy, and advice on parenting. Termination was in the children’s best interests because Jennifer had no consistent progress despite services, and there were concerns with Jennifer’s engagement and ability to parent. Inconsistency was especially bad for Elijah and his behavioral issues. The children had been in foster care for significant periods of time, some of them their whole life. In addition, Jennifer was provided with due process because there was no evidence of bias and Jennifer was allowed full cross-examination of all witnesses.