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In re Gabriella H.

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

June 3, 2014

IN RE INTEREST OF GABRIELLA H., A CHILD UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE. STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE,
v.
RICARDO R., APPELLANT

Page 104

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 105

Appeal from the County Court for Colfax County: PATRICK R. MCDERMOTT, Judge.

Jerod L. Trouba, of Knoepfle & Trouba, P.C., for appellant.

Leslie J. Buhl, Deputy Colfax County Attorney, for appellee.

Jacqueline M. Tessendorf, of Tessendorf & Tessendorf, P.C., guardian ad litem.

IRWIN, RIEDMANN, and BISHOP, Judges.

OPINION

Page 106

[22 Neb.App. 71] Riedmann, Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Ricardo R. appeals the order of the Colfax County Court, sitting as a juvenile court, terminating his parental rights to his minor child, Gabriella H. Ricardo asserts the juvenile court erred in finding that he intentionally abandoned Gabriella under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-292(1) (Cum. Supp. 2012), that [22 Neb.App. 72] reasonable efforts at reunification were not required pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-283.01(4)(a) (Cum. Supp. 2012), and that termination was in Gabriella's best interests. Upon our de novo review of the record, we find that the juvenile court erred in terminating Ricardo's parental rights, because the State failed to adduce clear and convincing evidence of abandonment under § 43-292(1). Thus, we reverse, and remand for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

Gabriella, born in November 2011, is the biological child of Dorothy G. Gabriella was immediately removed from Dorothy's care due to Dorothy's substance abuse and placed in the temporary custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

On November 28, 2011, the State filed a petition seeking to adjudicate Gabriella under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) (Reissue 2008), because she lacked proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of her mother, Dorothy. The petition listed the father of Gabriella as " [u]nknown." An initial hearing on the petition was held on December 6, during which Dorothy advised the court that Ricardo was a potential father of Gabriella. The court ordered DHHS to determine the paternity of the child. Gabriella's caseworker attempted to contact Ricardo to conduct genetic testing, but was unable to reach him.

On December 12, 2011, the State filed an amended petition for adjudication, which again listed the father of Gabriella as " [u]nknown." An adjudication hearing was held on December 13 during which Dorothy admitted the allegations in the amended petition. The court accepted Dorothy's admission and found that Gabriella was a child within ยง 43-247(3)(a). DHHS continued its attempts to contact Ricardo on a monthly basis from December 2011 until September 2012, via telephone numbers provided by Dorothy. The caseworker left messages for Ricardo, but he ...


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