In re Interest of Nyarout T. et. al

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In re Interest of Nyarout T. et. al

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

SUMMARY: Termination of parental rights were proper where the mother had received parenting assistance since 2003 but failed to make sufficient progress to allow the children to return to her care.

The children were removed from the home of the mother, Selina, on the following dates: Nyaliet, Julius and Nyarout on May 19, 2005; Nyariek and Karbeano on August 26, 2009, and Elizabeth at birth in November 2009. Since 2003, Selina had been provided support services, which included individual therapy, family therapy, visitation support, interpreter assistance and family support work. Since the children were removed from her home, Selina worked with a therapist who coached her on cultural differences between Sudan and America, and had a family support worker and home-based family therapist. She also received financial assistance and drug screening. However, there remained issues of Selina’s ability to keep the children safe, to appropriately discipline them and to provide them the nurturing and guidance required by a parent. Two of the children had behavioral needs that Selina seemed unable to manage. Selina had drinking and gambling issues that she failed to address and which, at one point, caused her financial benefits to be suspended for 90 days. In October 2007, a motion to terminate Selina’s parental rights was filed but withdrawn in October 2008. A second motion for termination of parental rights was filed on August 27, 2009 pursuant to 43-292(2), (6) and (7), which varied depending on the child. Trial began on March 4, 2010. Selina filed a motion to continue testimony by a witness on Sudanese culture, but the motion was overruled. Trial was completed on June 10, 2010, after which the court terminated Selina’s parental rights. Selina appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination. In considering whether 43-292(2) existed as a ground for termination, the Court of Appeals noted that although at times Selina made progress, she “continuously failed to make the necessary adjustments to achieve sufficient progress for the children to return to her care permanently.” Page 6. As to best interests, the Court of Appeals found that Selina lacked continued improvement and a commitment to fulfill parental responsibilities. Given Selina’s continued reliance on the State since 2005, the prolonged time of the children in foster care, Selina’s inability to provide the care needed, and the special needs of the children requiring a stable and nurturing caregiver, the Court of Appeals concluded termination was in the children’s best interests. Finally, the Court of Appeals concluded it was not error for the court to deny continuing the case to allow the testimony of an expert on Sudanese culture and assimilation because Selina knew well in advance that the witness would be out of the country, that she had ample time to call the witness or to schedule a disposition, and that there was similar testimony already adduced regarding Sudanese culture.