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In re Montana S.

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

September 24, 2013

In re Interest of Montana S., a child under 18 years of age.
v.
Nicole S., appellee, and Ann T., intervenor-appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee,

1. Juvenile Courts: Appeal and Error. Juvenile cases are reviewed de novo on the record, and an appellate court is required to reach a conclusion independent of the juvenile court's findings.

2. Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. A jurisdictional question which does not involve a factual dispute is determined by an appellate court as a matter of law. which requires the appellate court to reach a conclusion independent of the lower court's decision.

3. Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. In a juvenile case, as in any other appeal, before reaching the legal issues presented for review, it is the duty of an appellate court to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the matter before it, irrespective of whether the issue is raised by the parties.

4. Standing: Jurisdiction. Standing relates to a court's power, that is, jurisdiction, to address issues presented and serves to identify those disputes which are appropriately resolved through the judicial process.

5. __: __. A party has standing to invoke a court's jurisdiction if it has a legal or equitable right, title, or interest in the subject matter of the controversy. [21 Neb.App. 316]

6. Child Custody: Standing. Foster parents of children who have been adjudicated as being without proper support have standing to object to a plan to change foster care placement of the children.

7. Child Custody: Standing: Appeal and Error. Because a foster parent has standing to object to a plan recommending a change in placement, a foster parent also has standing to appeal the juvenile court's decision to adopt such a plan and change the child's placement.

8. Jurisdiction: Final Orders: Appeal and Error. For an appellate court to acquire jurisdiction of an appeal, there must be a final order entered by the tribunal from which the appeal is taken.

9. Final Orders: Appeal and Error. The three types of final orders which may be reviewed on appeal are (1) an order which affects a substantial right and which determines the action and prevents a judgment, (2) an order affecting a substantial right made during a special proceeding, and (3) an order affecting a substantial right made on summary application in an action after judgment is rendered.

10. Juvenile Courts: Appeal and Error. A proceeding before a juvenile court is a "special proceeding" for appellate purposes.

11. Final Orders: Appeal and Error. A substantial right is affected if an order affects the subject matter of the litigation, such as diminishing a claim or defense that was available to the appellant prior to the order from which the appeal is taken.

12. Juvenile Courts: Child Custody. A juvenile court's order changing a child's placement to a different foster home affects a substantial right held by the child's current foster parent where that foster parent has been the child's primary caregiver during a vast majority of the juvenile court proceedings and for the majority of the child's life, and where all of the parties, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the State, agree that the foster parent should be considered as an adoptive placement for the child.

13. Juvenile Courts: Minors. The foremost purpose and objective of the Nebraska Juvenile Code is to promote and protect the juvenile's best interests, and the code must be construed to assure the rights of all juveniles to care and protection.

14. Juvenile Courts: Child Custody. Juvenile courts are accorded broad discretion in determining the placement of an adjudicated child and to serve that child's best interests.

15. Evidence: Appeal and Error. Where credible evidence is in conflict on a material issue of fact, the appellate court considers, and may give weight to, the fact that the trial court heard and observed the witnesses and accepted one version of the facts rather than another.

Appeal from the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County: Vernon Daniels, Judge.

Regina T. Makaitis for intervenor-appellant.

[21 Neb.App. 317] Donald W. Kleine, Douglas County Attorney, Jennifer C. Clark, and Emily H. Anderson, Senior Certified Law Student, for appellee State of Nebraska.

Inbody, Chief Judge, and Irwin and Moore, Judges.

Irwin, Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Ann T., the maternal grandmother of Montana S. and an intervenor in these juvenile court proceedings, appeals from an order of the juvenile court which granted a motion to change Montana's physical placement from Ann's home to a different foster home. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm ...


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