In re Interest of Eliza G. and Ezra G.

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In re Interest of Eliza G. and Ezra G.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Friday, May 16, 2014

SUMMARY: Termination of parental rights was supported by evidence that the parents’ personal deficiencies, including alcohol dependency and domestic violence, prevented them from performing reasonable parental obligations, even though there was evidence that the parents had made some progress. 

The State of Nebraska filed a petition on October 20, 2010 after Ruth became intoxicated and called a crisis hotline center to report suicidal ideations and thoughts of killing her twin boys, Elijah and Ezra (DOB 5/2008),. Ruth reported that she and the boys’ father, Daryl, struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and engaged in serious verbal altercations in front of the children. Ruth admitted to the allegations in the petition in November, 2010; Daryl denied the allegations and the juvenile court adjudicated the children following a hearing in March 2011. The State filed a motion to terminate parental rights in September 2012. At the termination hearing held in January, February and March of 2013, there was evidence that Daryl had initially made progress by attending weekly therapy and a domestic violence program. Daryl’s visitation progressed from supervised to monitored, and the children were placed with Daryl on November 3, 2011. However, Ruth was inconsistent in attending visits and voluntarily ceased visitation for a period of time. Ruth was only minimally cooperative with ordered drug and alcohol tests and was never able to maintain sobriety despite receiving treatment. Daryl allowed Ruth to visit the boys despite a court order that Ruth only have supervised contact with them and the boys were removed from Daryl’s home. Elijah and Ezra exhibited symptoms such as aggressiveness and swearing and reported that Daryl had disciplined them with a belt. There were also reports that both Ruth and Daryl had made threatening remarks toward service providers. Ruth and Daryl both completed outpatient alcohol abuse treatment but continued to have problems abstaining from alcohol. Ruth and Daryl testified that they wanted to raise the children together as a family. The juvenile court terminated Ruth’s and Daryl’s parental rights on August 14, 2013.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the terminations of parental rights. First, the Court of Appeals noted that Elijah and Ezra had been placed outside of the home for almost half of their lives. In addition, Ruth and Daryl were not able to provide a safe and stable home despite participation in many services, including therapy, substance abuse treatment, and various parenting and community support services for two years. Daryl blatantly disregarded court orders by letting Ruth see Elijah and Ezra without supervision and it was unlikely that Daryl would be willing to break ties with Ruth. Too much time had passed with insufficient progress to warrant continued reunification efforts. The termination of Ruth’s and Daryl’s parental rights was in Elijah’s and Ezra’s best interests.