In re Interest of Malachi W. et. al

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In re Interest of Malachi W. et. al

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Monday, January 6, 2014

SUMMARY: Placement with the child’s father was not an abuse of discretion where the father had completed substance abuse treatment and was in an aftercare program, was sober for two months, and the father was doing what was necessary to allow for the child’s placement in the home. 

The State of Nebraska filed a petition on January 13, 2009 alleging that Marquice (DOB 3/1999), Malachi (DOB 8/2005) and DaeShawn (DOB 4/2007) lacked proper parental care due to the faults or habits of their mother, Tiffany, and DaeShawn’s father, Paul, because Tiffany and Paul were involved in domestic altercations in the children’s presence. The children were adjudicated March 30, 2009 and remained in Tiffany’s care until March 2011. The children were eventually placed with their grandmother. At a review and permanency planning hearing held on July 2, 2013, Paul asked that DaeShawn be placed with him. There was evidence that Paul had just completed outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug counseling and was in ongoing therapy. He had been submitting to urinalysis tests and had been sober for 2 months, but also had a history of not successfully remaining sober following substance abuse treatment. At the time of the hearing, Paul was employed and lived in a three-bedroom home with his fiancée and her two daughters. Paul testified that DaeShawn would have his own room and would attend a school two blocks away from Paul’s home. Paul stated DaeShawn was excited about living with him and that he would maintain sibling visitation and contact with DaeShawn’s grandmother. DaeShawn had reported conflict and abuse with his brother, Marquice, in his grandmother’s home. There was also evidence that DaeShawn had reported that Paul’s fiancée had slapped DaeShawn, but the caseworker testified that they would implement a safety plan that would include drop-ins. Tiffany was in a short-term residential substance abuse program at the time of the hearing and was awaiting sentencing for a felony charge. Tiffany testified that DaeShawn had told her that he wanted to continue to live with his grandmother. On July 10, 2013, the juvenile court entered an order which, among other things, ordered placement of DaeShawn with Paul.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the placement. The record demonstrated that Paul was making efforts to improve his situation to be able to parent DaeShawn. Though a longer record of sobriety might be desirable, there was evidence that Paul was cooperating fully with therapy, treatment, and the other services provided by the Department. He was doing everything needed to allow for DaeShawn’s placement and there was a safety plan to allow for DaeShawn’s integration into the home. There was no abuse of discretion in the juvenile court’s ordering placement with Paul.