In re Interest of Korri F.

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In re Interest of Korri F.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SUMMARY: Termination of a father’s parental rights under the Nebraska Child Welfare Act was proper when active efforts had been undertaken, future efforts would be futile, and placement with the father would likely result in emotional and physical harm. In addition, the father was incarcerated, preventing him from taking custody of his daughter for a long time.

The State removed Korri (DOB 9/2005) from her father, Corey, on November 15, 2005 because Korri sustained injuries consistent with non-accidental child abuse and/or battered child syndrome. The State filed a petition on November 21, 2005 and an Indian Child Welfare Notice on November 22, 2005. Korri was adjudicated due to the faults and habits of her mother, Katherine, in January 2006, and adjudicated due to the faults or habits of Corey in May 2006. Corey was incarcerated on February 1, 2007 and resumed supervised visits with Korri upon his release in December. The State filed a motion to terminate Corey’s parental rights in June 2007 and amended the motion in October, but moved to dismiss the amended motion on March 25, 2008. Korri was placed back in Corey and Katherine’s care on December 23, 2008, even though there were concerns about Corey’s sobriety. After Katherine passed away, Korri was removed from Corey’s care on September 30, 2009. Corey pled guilty to distribution of crack cocaine and was sentenced to 151 months’ incarceration on July 12, 2010. The State filed a third motion to terminate Corey’s parental rights to Korri on December 15, 2011. At the termination hearing held March 28, 2013, an ICWA specialist at DHHS testified active efforts were made in this case, including a written cultural plan. Corey was offered many services including parenting classes, visitation, therapy, and transportation, but did not actively participate in those services. The ICWA specialist also testified that continued custody with Corey was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to Korri because Korri had very little contact with her father throughout her life. Except for a period of 9 months, Korri had continuously been in foster care since she was 58 days old. The juvenile court terminated Corey’s parental rights on May 14, 2013.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of Corey’s parental rights. The Court of Appeals found that active efforts had been undertaken because there was a cultural plan in place and Corey had been offered numerous services, but further services would be futile because Corey had not consistently participated in those services. Giving Corey custody of Korri was likely to result in emotional or physical harm because Corey had a lengthy history of incarceration and there had been little contact between them. Lastly, termination of Corey’s parental rights was in Korri’s best interests because Korri had been in foster care for a majority of her life and Corey would not be in a position to take custody of Korri until 2020. Therefore, the juvenile court’s termination of Corey’s parental rights was proper.