In re Interest of Jade H. et al., Children under 18 years of age. state of Nebraska, appellee, Benjamin., appellant.
1. 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
Parental Rights. Neb. Rev. Stat. §
43-292(9) (Reissue 2016) allows for terminating parental
rights when the parent of the juvenile has subjected the
juvenile or another minor child to aggravated circumstances,
including, but not limited to, abandonment, torture, chronic
abuse, or sexual abuse.
4. __ .
Whether aggravated circumstances under Neb. Rev. Stat. §
43-292(9) (Reissue 2016) exist is determined on a
Parental Rights: Words and Phrases. Where
the circumstances created by the parent's conduct create
an unacceptably high risk to the health, safety, and welfare
of the child, they are aggravated.
Parental Rights: Minors: Words and Phrases.
The term "aggravated circumstances, " as used in
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-283.01(4)(a) (Reissue 2016),
embodies the concept that the nature of the abuse or neglect
must have been so severe or repetitive that to attempt
reunification would jeopardize and compromise the safety of
the child and would place the child in a position of an
unreasonable risk to be reabused.
Neb.App. 679] 7. Parental
Rights. The failure of a parent to seek medical
treatment for a child when the child has suffered physical
injuries meets the statutory requirement of Neb. Rev. Stat.
§ 43-292(9) (Reissue 2016).
Parental Rights: Proof. Only one statutory
ground for termination need be proved in order for parental
rights to be terminated.
Parental Rights: Juvenile Courts. Reasonable
efforts to reunify a family are required under the juvenile
code only when termination is sought under Neb. Rev. Stat.
§ 43-292(6) (Reissue 2016).
Parental Rights: Proof. 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.
Child Custody: Words and Phrases. 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.
from the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County:
Christopher Kelly, Judge. Affirmed.
J. Pekny and Courtney R. Ruwe, of Johnson & Pekny,
L.L.C., for appellant.
W. Kleine, Douglas County Attorney, Sarah Schaerrer, and
Laura Elise Lemoine, Senior Certified Law Student, for
Neb.App. 680] Pirtle, Riedmann, and Arterburn, Judges.