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In re Mya C.

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

November 17, 2015

IN RE INTEREST OF MYA C. ET AL., CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE. STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE,
v.
DAVID M., SR., APPELLANT

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Appeal from the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County: REGGIE L. RYDER, Judge.

Laura A. Lowe, P.C., for appellant.

Joe Kelly, Lancaster County Attorney, and Lory A. Pasold for appellee.

IRWIN, INBODY, and RIEDMDMANN, Judges.

OPINION

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[23 Neb.App. 385] Riedmdmann, Judge.

INTRODUCTION

David M., Sr. (David), appeals from the order of the juvenile court for Lancaster County, Nebraska, terminating his parental rights to his minor children, LaToya M. and David M., Jr. (David Jr.). After our de novo review of the record, we reverse, and remand for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

This case began as an educational neglect case against David's partner, Ann B., because her oldest daughter, Mya C., had missed an impermissible number of days of school. When the educational neglect case began in the fall of 2012, Ann and David lived together with Ann's two children from a prior relationship, Mya and Tyrone C., and the couple's young [23 Neb.App. 386] daughter, LaToya. After " Intensive Family Preservation" workers with the Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) began observing the home, they became concerned that both Ann and David were neglecting all three children. The affidavit for temporary custody noted that during drop-in visits, the children wore the same dirty clothes for multiple days in a row, David yelled and used threatening language toward the children, and the parents left Mya in timeouts for extended periods of time. Personnel from the Department observed the home to be very dirty. They also received reports that Mya did not have enough food and had to sleep on the floor.

Removal of Children.

On February 14, 2013, the juvenile court granted temporary custody of Mya, Tyrone, and LaToya to the Department and ordered that the children be removed from the home. LaToya was 18 months old at the time of her removal. The next day, the State filed a supplemental petition adding allegations against David. The supplemental petition alleged in relevant part that on one or more occasions since at least December 2012:

a) [David] failed to provide a safe, suitable, and stable living environment for the minor children;

b) . . . [T]he minor children ha[d] been observed to be wearing the same dirty clothes multiple days in a row; [and]

c) [David had] been verbally, emotionally and/or physically abusive to the minor children or a sibling of the minor children.

Ann and David pleaded no contest to the charges.

In April 2013, David Jr. was born to Ann and David. The State immediately removed him from his parents' care and placed him in the temporary custody of the Department. Ann ultimately relinquished her parental rights to all four children. Accordingly, this appeal pertains only to David's parental rights to LaToya and David Jr.

[23 Neb.App. 387] Case Plan.

At a review hearing in June 2013, the court ordered in relevant part that David participate in mental health counseling to address anger issues, that he participate in family therapy with Ann to address relationship and coparenting issues, that he participate in a budget management course, and that Ann and David have reasonable

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rights of supervised parenting time as arranged by the Department. The court order also allowed for monitored parenting time to be arranged with 10 days' notice.

The Department chose Dr. James Carmer for David's therapy. Due to coordination issues between the Department's providers, his therapy did not begin until September 2013. At the termination hearing, Dr. Carmer testified that David participated in 27 individual sessions and that his therapy was ongoing. Dr. Carmer stated that David has made good progress on issues, including anger management, coping skills, emotional management, and appreciating other people's perspectives. Dr. Carmer opined that David has become more cooperative, less threatened by authority, and better able to manage his emotions and " problem solve" in a parenting context. Dr. Carmer explained that David has benefited from a parenting approach called Common Sense Parenting that he learned from his " family parenting partner." Although Dr. Carmer has not personally observed David with the children and has only reviewed visitation notes, he testified based on the notes and David's progress in therapy that ...


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