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In re Zanaya W.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 5, 2015

IN RE INTEREST OF ZANAYA W. ET AL., CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE. STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLEE,
v.
P'LAR'E S., APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT, AND REON W., IN TERVENOR-APPELLANT. IN RE INTEREST OF JAHON S., A CHILD UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE. STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE,
v.
P'LAR'E S., APPELLANT

Page 804

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 805

Appeals from the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County: CHRISTOPHER KELLY, Judge.

Joseph L. Howard, of Dornan, Lustgarten & Troia, P.C., L.L.O., for intervenor-appellant Reon W. in No. S-14-550.

Thomas C. Riley, Douglas County Public Defender, and Zoë R. Wade for appellee P'lar'e S. in No. S-14-550 and appellant P'lar'e S. in No. S-14-564.

Donald W. Kleine, Douglas County Attorney, Amy Schuchman, and Jennifer Chrystal-Clark for appellee State.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, STEPHAN, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ.

OPINION

Page 806

[291 Neb. 21] Stephan, J.

Reon W. and P'lar'e S. are the biological parents of Zanaya W., Mileaya S., and Imareon S. The separate juvenile court of Douglas County terminated their parental rights to the children, and both filed timely appeals. Reon's appeal and P'lar'e's cross-appeal are before us as case No. S-14-550.

Reon and P'lar'e are also the parents of Jahon S. In separate proceedings, the juvenile court also terminated their parental rights to Jahon. P'lar'e's appeal is before us in case No. S-14-564. Reon's appeal is separately docketed as case No. S-14-1049 and is not the subject of this opinion. We granted P'lar'e's petition to bypass and consolidated cases Nos. S-14-550 and S-14-564 for disposition. We now affirm the judgment of the juvenile court in each case.

BACKGROUND

General

In March 2011, the State filed a petition alleging Zanaya, then 2 years old, and Mileaya, then approximately 1 year old, [291 Neb. 22] came within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) (Reissue 2008) due to the fault or habits of P'lar'e. The children were removed from P'lar'e's custody and placed with Reon. In July, Reon was allowed to intervene in the juvenile proceedings as an interested party. Imareon was born in May 2012, and the petition was subsequently amended to include him as a child within the meaning of § 43-247(3)(a) due to the fault or habits of P'lar'e. Zanaya, Mileaya, and Imareon were adjudicated in July 2012 after P'lar'e admitted she had failed to provide them with safe and stable housing and had failed to participate in necessary mental health treatment for herself. Imareon was also placed with Reon.

The original disposition was in September 2012. At that time, the permanency objective was family preservation with Reon and a concurrent objective of reunification with P'lar'e. P'lar'e was ordered to work with her psychiatrist for medication management and take all medications prescribed, to submit to random drug and alcohol testing a minimum of two times per week, to continue to participate in individual therapy, to participate in an outpatient substance abuse program and mental health therapy, and to cooperate with family support workers and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). P'lar'e was allowed supervised visitation with the children.

Page 807

P'lar'e completed 5 of 10 scheduled visits with the children in September 2012 and 1 of 6 scheduled visits in October. Her caseworker reported that during visits, P'lar'e struggled to engage appropriately with the children, but did show them verbal and physical affection. P'lar'e missed scheduled drug tests in May, June, and August. She also missed four scheduled appointments with a psychiatrist between March and September. P'lar'e stopped visitation in November, when she moved to Detroit, Michigan. At that time, she understood Reon was going to be given custody of the children and she was comfortable with that. She testified that she was capable of parenting at that time but was tired of the process and decided to just let the children be with Reon. P'lar'e and Reon [291 Neb. 23] agreed she could have visits with the children, supervised by him. After P'lar'e moved to Detroit, the permanency objective changed to family preservation with Reon and DHHS stopped making efforts to reunify P'lar'e and the children.

In March 2013, Reon was arrested for possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. In April, a supplemental petition was filed alleging Zanaya, Mileaya, and Imareon came within § 43-247(3)(a) due to the fault or habits of Reon. As relevant to this case, it was alleged that Reon used and/or possessed controlled substances in the home and that Reon failed to provide safe housing for the children. Reon admitted these allegations, and the children were adjudicated and placed in the care and custody of DHHS.

Meanwhile, P'lar'e returned to Nebraska in February 2013. In an April 2013 review order, the court allowed her to resume DHHS-supervised visitation with the children. It also ordered her to submit to random drug and alcohol testing.

Termination of Reon's Parental Rights

On January 21, 2014, the State petitioned to terminate Reon's parental rights to Zanaya, Mileaya, and Imareon based on an allegation that he substantially and continuously or repeatedly neglected and refused to give them necessary parental care and protection.[1] The petition also alleged that the children had been in an out-of-home placement for 15 or more of the most recent 22 months.[2] The ...


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