In re Interest of Landen W. et. al

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In re Interest of Landen W. et. al

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SUMMARY: Termination was proper where the mother failed to maintain her psychiatric care and medications, was unwilling to acknowledge her boyfriend’s culpability in her son’s injuries, and made insufficient progress in the five years she was involved with DHHS. 

The mother, Nichole, has been involved with DHHS since August 2007 when Landen, DOB 12/05, was removed from her home and eventually placed with his father. Vincent, DOB 8/08, was removed from Nichole at birth due to her volatile behavior and adjudicated, but placed back with her in March 2010. In July 2010, however, Landen was seriously injured by Nichole’s live-in boyfriend and the children, which now also included Naomi, DOB 12/09, were removed. The court adjudicated Naomi under N.R.S. 43-247(3)(a) in September 2011. Nichole had been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder. For a time, she regularly visited with a psychiatrist and took medications but stopped after she was removed from Medicaid, even though alternate options were provided. Nichole had frequent behavioral issues, which included being combative with caseworkers and having emotional outbursts at family team meetings. Nichole visited the children consistently but visits became irregular closer to trial and there were concerns about her inappropriate behavior. Nichole refused to acknowledge that her boyfriend injured Landen, even after his conviction and incarceration, and for a time continued to stay with him. She maintained employment but failed to produce paystubs or fill out a required monthly budget. During a home visit in April 2012, a caseworker noticed a gasoline can on the kitchen table and a lighter nearby, as well as spoiled food and uncleanliness. In April 2012, the State filed a motion to terminate Nicole’s parental rights to Vincent and Naomi under 43-292(2), (6) and (7) and to Landen under 43-292(2). Trial was held and on October 12, 2012, the juvenile court terminated Nichole’s parental rights to all children. Nichole appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court’s orders. It found that Vincent and Naomi had been out-of-home more than 15 months and that Nichole’s failure to acknowledge her boyfriend’s culpability in causing Landen’s injuries and her failure to maintain psychiatric help for her mental health issues were sufficient to satisfy the 43-292(2) ground. As to best interests, the Court of Appeals again noted Nichole’s failure to maintain her psychiatric care and medications, her unwillingness to acknowledge her boyfriend’s culpability in Landen’s injuries, and the lack of progress she has made since 2007 before concluding termination was in the children’s best interests.