In re Interest of Skylar J.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version

In re Interest of Skylar J.

Case Number
Court Number
Call Date
September 15, 2022
Case Time
9:30 AM
Extended Case Summary

A-21-1034, In re Interest of Skylar J., et al.

Cass County Court (sitting as a juvenile court), Judge David J. Partsch

Attorney for Appellant:  Michael Ziskey (Fankhauser Nelsen Werts Ziskey & Merwin PCLLO)

Attorney for Appellee:  Sarah M. Sutter (Cass County Attorney’s Office)

Juvenile Action:  Termination of Parental Rights

Action Taken by Juvenile Court: The State filed an amended motion to terminate the children’s legal/adoptive mother’s (appellant) parental rights and following a trial, the court entered an order finding there were statutory grounds to terminate parental rights based on Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43- 292(2), (6) and (7), and that termination was in the children’s best interests.

Assignments of Error on Appeal: Did the juvenile court err in finding sufficient evidence to support termination of parental rights under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43- 292(2), (6) and (7)? Did the juvenile court err in finding sufficient evidence to conclude termination of parental rights was in the best interest of the minor children?

Facts: Appellant is the legal/adoptive mother and biological grandmother of the minor children: Skylar, Bailey, Kallie, Issibella, and Marlee J. The children’s biological mother, Misti J., is appellant’s daughter and her rights are not at issue. Appellant had been a part of the children’s lives from birth prior to adoption.

In June 2019, a report of drug use at the home of appellant was made to law enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Investigations ensued and voluntary supports were put into place regarding cleanliness and drug use by non-family members staying in the home. Seven children and seven adults were residing in the home, including Amanda C. and Kevin C. and their children.

DHHS received another report of persons using drugs in the home. Law enforcement executed a search warrant and drugs were found in the home, likely belonging to Amanda C. and/or Kevin C. DHHS removed all the children, including appellant’s 5 children. The children were placed in foster care.

As part of the case plan implemented, appellant was ordered to ensure she had a clean and safe home, and set boundaries regarding allowing persons who used drugs to reside in her home. It was reported that the children discussed with support workers and foster parents that they observed drug use in appellant’s home. Appellant’s husband, Duane, who never adopted the children, was observed to be intoxicated and potentially a drug user. Supervised visits were set up at a public library due to Appellant’s home not being suitable/dirty and Duane’s presence. COVID ended in-person visits for a time.

Appellant moved in 2020 from Plattsmouth to Wahoo and found a 3 bedroom apartment. Initially, she did not allow Duane to move in with her but after a few months, she allowed him to move in as he would have been homeless and he had serious health problems. While there were no concerns about appellant and she never tested positive for drugs or alcohol, there were ongoing concerns with Duane and other family members.

After a year in foster care, the State moved to terminate parental rights. Following trial, appellant’s rights were terminated.

Appellant argues the evidence did not support a finding of termination of her parental rights. She argues the assessment by the court-ordered therapist showed that reunification was the best option for the children. She admits that the opinion came with conditions that included a clean, safe, and drug free home. She argues that she met all those conditions with her new apartment in Wahoo. She also argues Duane has moved out of the home. She argues she has a job, a vehicle, and has completed parenting classes. She argues the reasons why the children were removed have been remedied. She argues the State failed to prove that termination was in the children’s best interests. She states she has been their primary caregiver since birth, and cared for them when their mother could not, including adoption so they could remain a family.

Case Location
Midland University
Court Type
County Court
Schedule Code
Panel Text
Pirtle, Chief Judge, Bishop and Arterburn, Judges