In re Interest of Jaydon W. & Ethan W.. children under 18 years of age.
Mathew W., appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee.
Juvenile Courts: Appeal and Error. An
appellate court reviews juvenile cases de novo on the record
and reaches its conclusions independently of the juvenile
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Appeal and
Error. In a juvenile case, as in any other appeal,
before reaching the legal issues presented for review, it is
the duty of an appellate court to determine whether it has
jurisdiction over the matter before it.
Jurisdiction: Final Orders: Appeal and
Error. For an appellate court to acquire
jurisdiction of an appeal, there must be a final order
entered by the court from which the appeal is taken.
Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights: Final Orders:
Appeal and Error. Juvenile court proceedings are
special proceedings, and an order in a juvenile special
proceeding is final and appealable if it affects a
parent's substantial right to raise his or her child.
Final Orders: Words and Phrases. A
substantial right is an essential legal right, not a mere
Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights: Parent and Child:
Time: Final Orders. Whether a substantial right of a
parent has been affected by an order in juvenile court
litigation is dependent upon both the object of the order and
the length of time over which the parent's relationship
with the juvenile may reasonably be expected to be disturbed.
Juvenile Courts: Judgments: Parental Rights.
A review order in a juvenile case does not affect a
parent's substantial right if the court adopts a case
plan or permanency plan that is almost identical to the plan
that the court adopted in a previous disposition or review
Neb.App. 563] 8. Juvenile Courts:
Judgments: Appeal and Error. A dispositional order
which merely continues a previous determination is not an
Child Custody: Visitation: Final Orders: Appeal and
Error. Orders which temporarily suspend a
parent's custody and visitation rights do not affect a
substantial right and are therefore not appealable.
Parental Rights. The right of parents to
maintain custody of their child is a natural right, subject
only to the paramount interest which the public has in the
protection of the rights of the child.
Due Process. The concept of due process
embodies the notion of fundamental fairness and defies
Parental Rights: Due Process: Appeal and
Error. In deciding due process requirements in a
particular case, an appellate court must weigh the interest
of the parent, the interest of the State, and the risk of
erroneous decision given the procedures in use. Due process
is flexible and calls for such procedural protections as the
particular situation demands.
Child Custody: Parental Rights. Under the
parental preference principle, a parent's natural right
to the custody of his or her child trumps the interests of
strangers, including the State, to the parent-child
relationship and the preferences of the child.
Constitutional Law: Public Policy: Child Custody:
Parental Rights. Unless it has been affirmatively
shown that a biological or adoptive parent is unfit or has
forfeited his or her right to custody, the U.S. Constitution
and sound public policy protect a parent's right to
custody of his or her child.
Constitutional Law: Parental Rights:
Presumptions. Absent circumstances which justify
terminating a parent's constitutionally protected right
to care for his or her child, due regard for the right
requires that a biological or adoptive parent be
presumptively regarded as the proper guardian for his or her
Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights. The
parental preference doctrine is applicable even to an
Parental Rights: Proof. Forfeiting the right
to custody under the parental preference doctrine must be
proved by clear and convincing evidence.
Parental Rights. Parental rights may be
forfeited by a substantial, continuous, and repeated neglect
of a child and a failure to discharge the duties of parental
care and protection.
Parental Rights: Proof. Substantial,
continuous, and repeated neglect of a child may be
established by the complete indifference of a parent for a
child's welfare over a long period of time.
Neb.App. 564] 20. Child Custody: Parental Rights:
Proof. The initial burden of proving parental
unfitness or forfeiture of a parent's right to custody is
on the State.
Constitutional Law: Parental Rights. Whether
termination of parental rights is in a child's best
interests is not simply a determination that one environment
or set of circumstances is superior to another, but it is
instead subject to the overriding recognition that the
relationship between parent and child is constitutionally
Parental Rights: Presumptions: Proof. There
is a rebuttable presumption that the best interests of a
child are served by reuniting the child with his or her
parent that is overcome only when the parent has been proved
unfit or there has been a forfeiture.
Child Custody: Parental Rights. While the
best interests of the child remain the lodestar of child
custody disputes, a parent's superior right to custody
must be given its due regard, and absent its ...