In re Interest of Maykala P.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version

In re Interest of Maykala P.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Monday, November 10, 2014

SUMMARY: Evidence that a father had not seen his daughter in over a year before the daughter’s removal from her home and concerns about the father’s fitness as a parent was sufficient to overcome the parental preference doctrine. The evidence also established that reasonable efforts, including parenting time and housing and employment assistance, were provided to the father and that further detention was necessary for the welfare of the daughter.

On July 24, 2013, the State removed Maykala (DOB 2007) from her mother’s care. Maykala’s father, Paul, filed a complaint to intervene as the biological father on November 19. Paul also sought placement of Maykala in his home during the pendency of the case. Paul was granted leave to intervene, but the other parties objected to placing Maykala with Paul. . On February 19, 2014, the Department filed a notice for change of placement. Paul filed an objection and requested Maykala be placed in his home. At the hearing held March 10, 2014, evidence was introduced that showed Paul had not had contact with Maykala for at least a year prior to Maykala’s removal from her mother’s care. Paul had three supervised visits with Maykala each week, but the visits were reduced to two a week after concerns about Paul arguing with Maykala and using inappropriate language. In addition, Maykala reported that she did not want to live with Paul and that she had negative memories of Paul abusing her mother. The department did not recommend placement with Paul because Paul was living with his mother, who was on the central registry based on past intakes of child abuse and neglect. Paul refused help with finding alternative housing and reported that he wanted to remain living with his parents. Paul also refused recommended services such as family therapy and parenting classes. The juvenile court denied Paul’s objection to the change of placement on March 11. The State filed a supplemental petition on March 11 alleging Maykala was at risk of harm due to the fault or habits of Paul. The juvenile court entered an order on March 14 finding that reasonable efforts were provided to Paul and it was contrary to Maykala’s health and safety to be returned to Paul’s home.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile courts’ orders. Evidence that Paul had limited contact with Maykala, concerns about Paul arguing with Maykala and using profanity during visits, and Paul’s refusal to engage in services or move from his parents’ home was sufficient to overcome the parental preference for placement with a biological parent. The same evidence supported Maykala’s continued detention. The department had provided reasonable efforts to reunify Maykala with Paul, including therapy, family time, and parenting classes. Continued detention of Maykala was necessary for her health, safety, and welfare.