In re Interest of Lorenzo and Angel P.

Caselaw Number
A-13-343 & A-13-344
Filed On

SUMMARY: Termination of a father’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests where the father did not successfully address his substance abuse and made no progress toward reunification.

On October 27, 2010, The State filed a petition as to Angel (DOB 1/2003) following reports of domestic violence between Angel’s father, Leonires, and Leonires’ ex-wife, Sonya. Initially, Angel remained living with Leonires with a safety plan in place, but was subsequently removed. Angel was adjudicated on February 22, 2011. Leonires did not initially comply with any of the services ordered in the case plan but did begin making progress after the court ordered the permanency objective be changed to guardianship or adoption. The court permitted Leonires to have unsupervised visitation with Angel and the Department began transitioning Angel back to Leonires’ home. However, shortly after Angel returned to Leonires’ care, there was evidence that Leonires continued to drink alcohol and had on-going contact with his ex-wife. Angel was again removed from Leonires’ home. While Angel’s case was pending, Leonires’ other son, Lorenzo (DOB 12/1997) reported Leonires physically assaulted him. The State filed a petition as to Lorenzo on March 14, 2012 and Leonires pled no contest. Leonires was incarcerated for driving under the influence for the majority of 2012 and thus made no further progress on his rehabilitation plan or had any physical contact with Angel or Lorenzo. The State filed a second motion to terminate Leonires’ parental rights to Angel and a first motion to terminate Leonires’ parental rights to Lorenzo on December 13, 2012. At the termination hearing held February 4, 2013, the State presented evidence that Angel required a consistent and stable environment because he suffered from an adjustment disorder. There was also evidence that Leonires had repeatedly abused Lorenzo and that, as a result, Lorenzo had a great deal of anger toward Leonires. Lorenzo initially displayed serious behavioral problems but these drastically improved following his removal from Leonires’ home. The juvenile court terminated Leonires’ parental rights as to Angel and Lorenzo.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the terminations of Leonires’ parental rights. The termination was in Angel’s and Lorenzo’s best interests because the case had been pending for almost two and a half years; for most of this time, Angel had been in a foster home placement. Leonires only complied with the rehabilitation plan once the court changed the permanency objective to guardianship or adoption and this compliance was superficial and short lived. Leonires repeatedly demonstrates his inability to be an appropriate and effective parent.