In re Interest of Jackson E.

Caselaw Number
No. S-15-534
Filed On

SUMMARY: Jackson E.’s former foster parents attempt to appeal an order of the County Court of Holt County declining to grant them a new trial on Jackson’s placement changing. Because they do not have standing, the appeal is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

Jackson came to the Court’s attention in September 2012 when a petition was filed because he had suffered head injuries in his home. He was taken into the custody of DHHS and found to be a neglected child. There has been no motion for TPR at this point.

When Jackson came into care, he was placed in the home of his maternal grandmother (MGM), Erin R. and her husband, Paul R. He remained with them for the next two and a half years. In March 2015, Jackson was removed from his MGM and her husband and placed with other foster parents. Erin and Paul filed a motion to have placement back with them and a motion to intervene in the case.

The Court held a hearing on both issues. It granted their motion to intervene, changed Jackson’s permanency goal from reunification to adoption, and found that the State had met its burden to move Jackson to new foster parents and that such a move was in his best interests.

Erin and Paul assigned error to Jackson’s placement change being in his best interests, the failure to give adequate preference for relative placement, and failing to grant them placement.

A jurisdictional question is determined by an appellate court is a matter of law and so the Court must reach an independent decision.

The Court addresses whether Erin and Paul have standing to appeal and whether they filed their notice of appeal timely. The Court concludes that they do not have standing and so does not address the issue of timeliness.

Foster parents do not have standing to appeal a child’s placement change. In re Interest of Enyce J. & Eternity M. 291 Neb. 965 (2015). Their status as intervenors and Erin’s status as his MGM do not change that result. There is a right to appeal from a Juvenile Court order for parents, custodians, or guardians. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-2,106.01(c). For purposes of the statue, Erin and Paul are not Jackson’s custodians or guardians. Foster parents are not custodians; custodians are those who have a custody order or those who have the care of the juvenile through means other than the Juvenile Court.

Because Erin and Paul do not have right to appeal, they do not have standing and the appeal is dismissed.