In re Adoption of Chase T., a minor child. Jennifer T., appellant,
Lindsay P. and Jessica P., appellees.
Jurisdiction. Statutory authority to exercise subject matter
jurisdiction may be raised sua sponte by a court.
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation presents
a question of law. When reviewing questions of law, an
appellate court resolves the questions independently of the
conclusions reached by the trial court.
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Before deciding the merits of
an appeal, an appellate court must determine if it has
___:___. If the court from which a party appeals lacked
jurisdiction, then the appellate court acquires no
jurisdiction. But an appellate court has the power to
determine whether it has jurisdiction over an appeal and to
correct jurisdictional issues even if it does not have
jurisdiction to reach the merits.
Adoption. The matter of adoption is statutory, and the manner
of procedure and terms are all specifically prescribed and
must be followed.
Adoption: Courts: Jurisdiction. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-104
(Reissue 2016) mandates that certain consents be filed in the
county court before an adoption can proceed, including the
consent of any district court in Nebraska having jurisdiction
of the custody of the minor child.
Adoption: Statutes. Before holding hearings and ruling on
matters in an adoption proceeding, the county court should
first consider whether it has statutory authority to proceed
with the adoption.
Adoption: Courts: Jurisdiction. Failure to file the consents
required by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-104 (Reissue 2016) is a
procedural defect that is jurisdictional in nature.
___:___:___. Without the consents required by Neb. Rev. Stat.
§ 43-104 (Reissue 2016), a county court lacks authority,
or jurisdiction, to entertain an adoption proceeding.
Statutes: Appeal and Error. The rules of statutory
interpretation require an appellate court to give effect to
the entire language of a statute, and to reconcile different
provisions of the statutes so they are consistent,
harmonious, and sensible.
___:___. The language of a statute is to be given its plain
and ordinary meaning, and an appellate court will not resort
to interpretation to ascertain the meaning of statutory words
which are plain, direct, and unambiguous.
Adoption: Statutes. The requirement of Neb. Rev. Stat. §
43-102 (Reissue 2016) that necessary consents must be on file
"prior to the hearing" is designed to ensure that
before the county court entertains a decision on the merits
in an adoption proceeding, all those required to consent to
the adoption proceeding have done so.
___:___. Although the adoption statutes no longer require
that necessary consents be filed "together with"
the adoption petition, the statutes still require that such
consents be filed before a county court holds hearings and
entertains the merits of any issue in the adoption
Statutes: Presumptions: Legislature: Intent. When construing
a statute, appellate courts are guided by the presumption
that the Legislature intended a sensible rather than an
absurd result in enacting a statute.
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. When a lower court lacks the
authority to exercise its subject matter jurisdiction to
adjudicate the merits of a claim, issue, or questions, an
appellate court also lacks the power to determine the merits
of the claim, issue, or question presented to the lower
from the County Court for Douglas County: Lawrence E.
Barrett, Judge. Judgment vacated, and cause remanded for
Lennon, of Koenig Dunne Divorce Law, PC, L.L.O., and George
T. Babcock, of Law Offices of Evelyn N. Babcock, for
Desirae M. Solomon, and Terry M. Anderson, of Hauptman,
O'Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, for appellees.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch,
and Funke, JJ.
T. appeals from an order of the county court dismissing her
complaint to intervene in an adoption proceeding and denying
her request to stay the adoption. We conclude the county
court lacked statutory authority to exercise subject matter
jurisdiction over the adoption proceeding, and we thus vacate
the order from which Jennifer appeals ...