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In re Mya C.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

December 6, 2013

In re Interest of Mya C. and Sunday C., children under 18 years of age.
v.
Nyamal M., appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee,

Page 494

Petition for further review from the Court of Appeals, INBODY, Chief Judge, and IRWIN and MOORE, Judges, on appeal thereto from the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County, REGGIE L. RYDER, Judge. Judgment of Court of Appeals reversed, and cause remanded with directions.

Matt Catlett, Lincoln, for appellant.

Joe Kelly, Lancaster County Attorney, and Daniel J. Zieg, for appellee.

Heavican, C.J., Connolly, Stephan, McCormack, Miller-Lerman, and Cassel, JJ.

Syllabus by the Court

1. Judgments: Appeal and Error. An appellate court independently reviews questions of law decided by a lower court.

2. Judgments: Jurisdiction. A jurisdictional issue that does not involve a factual dispute presents a question of law.

3. Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights: Final Orders: Appeal and Error. Juvenile court proceedings are special proceedings under Neb.Rev.Stat. § 25-1902 (Reissue 2008), and an order in a juvenile special proceeding is final and appealable if it affects a parent's substantial right to raise his or her child.

4. Juvenile Courts: Parent and Child. Under Neb.Rev.Stat. § 43-288 (Reissue 2008), a juvenile court has discretion to require a parent, among other things, to comply with a rehabilitation plan that will correct the conditions that led to the adjudication and to adequately provide for his or her child's needs.

5. Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights: Appeal and Error. A juvenile court order imposing a rehabilitation plan affects a parent's substantial right in a special proceeding and is appealable.

6. Juvenile Courts: Final Orders: Time: Appeal and Error. A juvenile court order that merely extends the time that the requirements of a previous order are in effect does not affect a substantial right or extend the time in which a party may appeal the original order.

7. Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights: Appeal and Error. A juvenile court order that adopts a case plan with a material change in the conditions for reunification with a parent's child is a crucial step in proceedings that could possibly lead to the termination of parental rights. Such orders affect a parent's substantial right in a special proceeding and are appealable.

Connolly, J.

[286 Neb. 1009] SUMMARY

A parent cannot appeal from a juvenile court's dispositional order that merely extends the time that the requirements of a previous order are in effect. [1] This appeal raises the jurisdictional question whether a juvenile court's order is final and appealable

Page 495

when it changes a condition for reunification in a parent's rehabilitation plan. While the appellant, Nyamal M., was a minor ward herself, the juvenile court required her to continue her high school education. At a later review hearing-after Nyamal had aged out of the juvenile court system, dropped out of high school, and obtained a job-the juvenile court changed the rehabilitation plan and required her to actively pursue a high school diploma or a diploma through the GED program.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals determined that this order was not final and appealable because it essentially continued the juvenile court's previous orders. The Court of Appeals characterized her appeal as an impermissible collateral attack on its earlier orders.[2]

[286 Neb. 1010] We granted Nyamal's petition for further review from this decision. We conclude that the later order did not merely continue the terms of the previous rehabilitation plan. Instead, it imposed a materially different requirement for Nyamal's reunification with her children. We reverse the Court of Appeals' judgment and ...


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