In re Interest of Jeremiah H.

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In re Interest of Jeremiah H.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SUMMARY: The court did not abuse its discretion in denying the father appointment of a guardian ad litem. Termination was in the child’s best interest because the father failed to consistently attend visits, submit to UAs, attend therapy or take prescribed medications.

A 3a petition was filed on October 23, 2009, as to Jeremiah based on failure to attend school. On February 1, 2010, the police discovered the home was filled with trash, vomit and feces and the mother intoxicated, and removed Jeremiah. An amended petition was filed on February 2, 2010, including allegations that the father, Melvin, engaged in domestic violence against the mother, and failed to care for Jeremiah because he was incarcerated. On March 25, 2010, Melvin admitted to the allegation involving domestic violence. Review hearings were held in June and December 2010 and February 2011. Melvin was released from jail on February 15, 2011. After release, he only attended approximately 1/3 of scheduled visits and underwent a psychiatric assessment but failed to take prescribed medication for his psychotic disorder. He also missed about half of the random UAs and did not attend court-ordered therapy. He did obtain appropriate housing and legal income. On July 28, 2011, the State filed an amended second motion for termination of parental rights pursuant to N.R.S. 43-292(2), (6) and (7). On November 10, 2011, Melvin filed a motion to continue and for appointment of a guardian ad litem. Before trial on November 14, 2011, the court denied both of Melvin’s motions. Following trial, the court terminated Melvin’s parental rights. Melvin appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination. It first held that because the termination was not pursuant to N.R.S. 43-292(5), it had the discretion to appointment of a GAL for Melvin and noted that Melvin’s mental health issues had been known throughout the case and that the court ensured Melvin understood the allegations against him. Finally, the Court of Appeals considered whether termination was in Jeremiah’s best interest. After reviewing Melvin’s failures to comply with court-ordered requirements, including Melvin’s apparent disinterest in visiting with Jeremiah, the Court of Appeals upheld the finding of best interests.