In re Interest of Austin G., a child under 18 years of age.State of Nebraska, appellee,
Kayla S. appellant.
Juvenile Courts: Appeal and Error. An
appellate court reviews juvenile cases de novo on the record
and reaches its conclusions independently of the juvenile
court's findings. When the evidence is in conflict,
however, an appellate court may give weight to the fact that
the lower court observed the witnesses and accepted one
version of the facts over the other.
Parental Rights: Proof. In order to terminate
parental rights, a court must find clear and convincing
evidence that one of the statutory grounds enumerated in Neb.
Rev. Stat. § 43-292 (Reissue 2016) exists and that
termination is in the child's best interests.
Parental Rights: Abandonment: Words and Phrases. For
purposes of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-292(1) (Reissue 2016),
"abandonment" is a parent's intentionally
withholding from a child, without just cause or excuse, the
parent's presence, care, love, protection, maintenance,
and the opportunity for the display of parental affection for
Guardians and Conservators: Parental Rights.
Guardianships give parents an opportunity to temporarily
relieve themselves of the burdens involved in raising a
child, thereby enabling parents to take those steps necessary
to better their situation so they can resume custody of their
child in the future.
___: ___. Although a guardian becomes the caretaker of the
child during the appointment, the parent must still retain an
interest in the child and maintain some sort of relationship
with the child.
Parental Rights: Abandonment: Intent. The failure of
the parent to have any contact with the child for far longer
than the 6 months required by Neb. Rev. Stat. §
43-292(1) (Reissue 2016) demonstrates the intent to [24
Neb.App. 774] withhold the parent's presence, care, love,
protection, maintenance, and the opportunity for the display
of parental affection for the child.
Parental Rights: Proof. Only one statutory ground
for termination need be proved in order for parental rights
to be terminated.
___: ___. In addition to proving a statutory ground,
the State must show that termination is in the best interests
of the child.
Constitutional Law: Parental Rights: Proof. A
parent's right to raise his or her child is
constitutionally protected; so before a court may terminate
parental rights, the State must also show that the parent is
Parental Rights: Presumptions: Proof. There is a
rebuttable presumption that the best interests of a child are
served by having a relationship with his or her parent. Based
on the idea that fit parents act in the best interests of
their children, this presumption is overcome only when the
State has proved that the parent is unfit.
Parental Rights: Statutes: Words and Phrases. The
term "unfitness" is not expressly used in Neb. Rev.
Stat. § 43-292 (Reissue 2016), but the concept is
generally encompassed by the fault and neglect subsections of
that statute, and also through a determination of the
child's best interests.
Constitutional Law: Parental Rights: Words and
Phrases. In discussing the constitutionally
protected relationship between a parent and a child, parental
unfitness means a personal deficiency or incapacity which has
prevented, or will probably prevent, performance of a
reasonable parental obligation in child rearing and which has
caused, or probably will result in, detriment to a
Parental Rights. The best interests analysis and the
parental fitness analysis are fact-intensive inquiries. And
while both are separate inquiries, each examines essentially
the same underlying facts as the other.
___. The best interests of a child require termination of
parental rights when a parent is unable or unwilling to
rehabilitate himself or herself within a reasonable time.
___. Children cannot, and should not, be made to
await uncertain parental maturity.
from the County Court for Wayne County: Ross A. Stoffer,
C. Dahl for appellant. Eric W. Knutson, Deputy Wayne County
Attorney, for appellee.
Neb.App. 775] Mark D. Alb in, guardian ad litem.
Pirtle, Bishop, and Arterburn, Judges.