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In re Joshua G.

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

October 9, 2018

In re Interest of Joshua G., a child under 18 years of age.
v.
Fred G., appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee.

         1. Parental Rights: Notice. Proceedings to terminate parental rights must employ fundamentally fair procedures satisfying the requirements of due process; this rule applies to notice requirements.

         2. Parental Rights: Due Process: Notice: Jurisdiction. In proceedings to terminate parental rights, once the court acquires jurisdiction over the person, due process still requires that such person be afforded reasonable notice of further proceedings.

         3. Service of Process: Notice. Service by publication under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-268(2) (Reissue 2016) can be made only after a reasonably diligent search fails to locate the party to be served.

         4. ___: ___.A reasonably diligent search for the purpose of justifying service by publication does not require the use of all possible or conceivable means of discovery, but is such an inquiry as a reasonably prudent person would make in view of the circumstances and must extend to those places where information is likely to be obtained and to those persons who, in the ordinary course of events, would be likely to receive news of or from the absent person.

         5. ___: ___. Whether all reasonable means to qualify a search as a "reasonably diligent" one have been exhausted must be determined by the circumstances of each particular case.

          Appeal from the County Court for Scotts Bluff County: James M. Worden, Judge. Affirmed.

          Darin J. Knepper, Deputy Scotts Bluff County Public Defender, for appellant.

          [26 Neb.App. 412] Danielle Larson, Deputy Scotts Bluff County Attorney, for appellee.

          Moore, Chief Judge, and Bishop and Arterburn, Judges.

          ARTERBURN, JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Fred G. appeals the order of the county court for Scotts Bluff County which terminated his parental rights to his son, Joshua G. On appeal, Fred asserts that he was not provided with proper notice of the termination proceedings because the State's affidavit for service by publication was legally insufficient. As a result, Fred argues he was denied his due process right to participate in the termination proceedings. For the reasons set forth herein, we find Fred's assertion to be without merit, and we affirm the decision of the county court to terminate his parental rights.

         BACKGROUND

         The juvenile court proceedings below involve Joshua, born in January 2015, and his parents, Fred and Martha H. Martha previously relinquished her parental rights to Joshua. As a result, she is not a party to this appeal and will be discussed only to the extent necessary to provide context.

         On May 10, 2016, when Joshua was almost 18 months old, the State filed a juvenile court petition alleging that Joshua was a juvenile as described by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) (Supp. 2015) due to the faults or habits of both Fred and Martha. Specifically, the petition alleged that Fred and Martha had failed to provide Joshua with safe and stable housing and with necessary care. In addition, it alleged that Joshua was at risk for harm due to Fred and Martha's engaging in domestic violence and using illegal substances. Fred was personally served with the petition.

         A first appearance hearing was held on May 19, 2016. Fred appeared at this hearing, affirmed that he had been personally [26 Neb.App. 413] served with a copy of the petition, and entered a denial to the allegations contained within the petition. Fred appeared at a subsequently held hearing in ...


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