In re Interest of Tiffany N.; In re Interest of Tyler N.; In re Interest of Tyson N.

Caselaw Number
A-13-255, A-13-256, A-13,257
Filed On

SUMMARY: Evidence supported termination of a mother’s parental rights where there were concerns about the mother’s ability to remain sober and to parent her children safely, even though the mother made some progress on her goals.

On September 24, 2009, Tracey was arrested for driving under the influence and admitted leaving her three children home alone; Tyler (born in 1999), Tiffany (born in 2000), and Tyson (born in 2002) were removed from her care. The State of Nebraska subsequently filed a petition in juvenile court. The children had previously been removed from Tracey’s care in October 2002 and reunited with Tracey three times before that close closed in June 2009. The State filed a supplemental motion to terminate Tracey’s parental rights on March 23, 2012. At the termination hearing held over seven days between June 29, 2012 and September 27, 2012, there was evidence that Tracey had completed many of the ordered services, including intensive outpatient treatment, parenting and domestic violence classes, maintaining housing and a source of income, and therapy. However, there were two main ongoing concerns about Tracey’s ability to parent. One concern was that Tracey had difficulty maintaining sobriety. Tracey tested positive for drugs and alcohol on several drug tests, and for numerous other drug tests the sample was diluted and thus may have led to false negative results. A toxicologist stated that Tracey’s samples were likely not diluted merely because Tracey drank a lot of water. A second concern was Tracey’s use of physical force on the children. Workers observed Tracey inappropriately using a “safe hold” on Tyson and otherwise dragging, grabbing, and holding down the children. Visitation never progressed beyond supervised visits because of this behavior. The children also reported to their therapist that Tracey had physically abused them as long as they could remember, especially when she had been drinking alcohol. The children also testified that they feared their mother. The juvenile court terminated Tracey’s parental rights February 28, 2013.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of parental rights. The Court noted that the children had been out of Tracey’s care for 30 months; together with the previous removal, the children had been in care six years. Tracey failed to make substantial, significant progress on the issues that led to the adjudication, continued to minimize concerns and deny abuse, and failed to take advantage of the opportunity to rebuild her bond with her children. The children expressed fear of returning home. The juvenile court properly relied on Tracey’s past history and did not place great weight on the urinalysis test results. Termination of Tracey’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests.