In re Interest of Kamille C. and Kamiya C. CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE.
Samuel C, appellee. Nateesha B., appellant,
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. When a
jurisdictional question does not involve a factual dispute,
its determination is a matter of law, which requires an
appellate court to reach a conclusion independent of the
decision made by the lower court.
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Statutes. As
a statutorily created court of limited and special
jurisdiction, a juvenile court has only such authority as has
been conferred on it by statute.
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Child Custody:
Parental Rights. During proceedings under Neb. Rev.
Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) (Reissue 2016), the juvenile court
has broad jurisdiction under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-284
(Reissue 2016) regarding placement, but its discretion is
governed by the parental preference doctrine that holds that
in a child custody controversy between a biological parent
and one who is neither a biological nor adoptive parent, the
biological parent has a superior right to the custody of the
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction. The juvenile
court loses jurisdiction to order compliance with
dispositional plans once it has terminated jurisdiction over
the juvenile and the parties.
Juvenile Courts: Statutes: Legislature: Child
Custody. In enacting Neb. Rev. Stat. §
43-246.02 (Supp. 2017), authorizing bridge orders, the
Legislature crafted a solution for temporary continuity when
the child is no longer in need of the juvenile court's
protection; the juvenile court has made, through a
dispositional order, a custody determination in the
child's best interests; and the juvenile court does not
wish to enter a domestic relations custody decree under the
power granted by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-2740(3) (Reissue
Neb. 227] 6. Juvenile Courts: Courts: Jurisdiction:
Child Custody. A juvenile court can ensure through a
bridge order that during the transfer of jurisdiction to the
district court for entry of a custody decree, the custody
arrangement that the juvenile court has found to be in the
child's best interests remains in place.
Juvenile Courts: Courts: Legislature: Jurisdiction:
Child Custody: Time. The Legislature, through
enacting Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-246.02 (Supp. 2017),
bridged the gap that would otherwise occur between the time
that the juvenile court terminated its jurisdiction and the
district court picked up the case, by avoiding a reversion,
before district court proceedings can be commenced, back to
whatever custody arrangement controlled before adjudication.
Juvenile Courts: Final Orders: Parental
Rights. 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
Final Orders. It is not enough that the
right itself be substantial; the effect of the order on that
right must also be substantial.
Final Orders: Appeal and Error. Most
fundamentally, an order affects a substantial right when the
right would be significantly undermined or irrevocably lost
by postponing appellate review.
___: ___. If the right affected would not be significantly
undermined by delaying appellate review, then the order falls
under the general prohibition of immediate appeals from
interlocutory orders. This general prohibition operates to
avoid piecemeal appeals arising out of the same set of
operative facts, chaos in trial procedure, and a succession
of appeals in the same case to secure advisory opinion to
govern further actions of the trial court.
Constitutional Law: Child Custody: Parental Rights:
Time. Custody is generally considered an essential
legal right implicating a parent's fundamental,
constitutional right to raise his or her child, but the
duration of a court's order is also relevant to whether
an order affects a substantial right.
Child Custody: Jurisdiction: Intent. A
bridge order is designed to preserve the status quo by
continuing the placement with the noncustodial parent until
the matter can be heard in district court, if either of the
parties are dissatisfied with the custody decree that the
district court enters in accordance with the bridge order.
Final Orders. An order merely preserving the
status quo pending a further order is not final.
Neb. 228] 16. Jurisdiction: Appeal and
Error. Immediate appellate review of a bridge order
would undermine the rights affected more than it would
Jurisdiction: Final Orders. A bridge order
is not final for purposes of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1902
from the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County: Linda
S. Porter, Judge. Appeal dismissed.
Shiffermiller, of Shiffermiller Law Office, PC, L.L.O., for
M. Zobel, of Anderson, Creager & Wittstruck, PC, L.L.O.,
Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik, and Freudenberg,
appeal involves a "bridge order," which was created
by L.B. 180 in 2017,  and is codified in Neb. Rev. Stat. §
43-246.02 (Supp. 2017). Under § 43-246.02(1), a
"juvenile court may terminate its jurisdiction under
subdivision (3)(a) of section 43-247 by transferring
jurisdiction over the juvenile's custody, physical care,
and visitation to the district court through a bridge
order," if certain criteria are met. A bridge order
solely addresses matters of legal and physical custody and
parenting time when a juvenile has been placed by the
juvenile court with a legal parent. The bridge order in this
case was entered after the adjudication of five children
under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) (Reissue 2016), who
had been in the mother's sole legal and physical custody.
Two of those children had the same father, with whom they
were placed during the ongoing juvenile proceedings. The
bridge order gave [302 Neb. 229] the father legal and
physical custody, with substantial visitation by the mother.
The mother contests the bridge order, arguing that it was
inappropriate under the circumstances, because by the time
the bridge order was entered, the Department of Health and
Human Services (DHHS) had conceded that the children could
safely be placed back in her care and custody. Because we
determine that bridge orders are not final for purposes of
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1902 (Reissue 2016), we dismiss the
appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
11, 2017, a petition was filed under § 43-247(3)(a) to
adjudicate Kamille C. and Kamiya C, as well as three siblings
who are not the subject of this appeal. The children resided
with their mother, Nateesha B. In a prior proceeding, Samuel
C. had been determined to be the biological father of Kamille
and Kamiya and had been ordered to pay child support. The
petition alleged that Nateesha had been found in possession
of controlled substances after a traffic stop. Kamille and
Kamiya were 5 years old at the time.
13, 2017, the juvenile court issued an ex parte order of
temporary emergency custody of all five children with DHHS,
which, after a hearing on July 19, the court ordered to be
admitted the allegations in the petition, and the children
were adjudicated on October 6, 2017. The court ordered that
Kamille and Kamiya be physically placed in Samuel's home
and that Nateesha be allowed to exercise reasonable rights of
supervised parenting time. Samuel's child support
payments were suspended during this time.
dispositional order was issued on November 21, 2017. The
court ordered that Kamille and Kamiya, as well as the other
adjudicated children, remain in the temporary legal custody
of DHHS, while Nateesha worked on a permanency plan for
reunification. Kamille and Kamiya's placement was to
continue with Samuel.
Neb. 230] At a dispositional review hearing on January 10,
2018, the court ruled that the children should remain in the
temporary legal custody of DHHS and that Kamille and Kamiya
should remain in their placement with Samuel.
April 24, 2018, pursuant to a motion by DHHS, the court
ordered the placement change of one of Kamille and
Kamiya's siblings from foster care back into
Nateesha's home, subject to further hearing at the
request of any party. In the affidavit in support of the
motion, DHHS noted that it had also requested that another
sibling be placed back with Nateesha, but that a hearing on
the request had not yet been held. A DHHS specialist averred
that Nateesha had regularly complied with the permanency plan
by submitting to drug testing and being negative for any and
all substances during the prior 2 months. Additionally,
Nateesha had been following the guidelines of her outpatient
treatment and was doing well. The DHHS specialist described
Nateesha as providing a "safe and stable home."
are no further orders regarding Kamille and Kamiya's
siblings in the appellate record.
moved for a bridge order under § 43-246.02, which would
close the juvenile case as to Kamille and Kamiya and transfer
jurisdiction over their physical care, custody, and parenting
time to the district court. The motion alleged that the
children were safely placed with Samuel, that there was not a
district court order for custody in place, that there were no
other related pending cases before the juvenile court, and
that the juvenile court could safely close the juvenile case
as to Kamille and Kamiya once orders for custody, physical
care, and parenting time were in place.
court held a hearing on May 24, 2018, on Samuel's motion
for a bridge order. According to testimony at the hearing,
approximately 1 month prior, Nateesha had begun having
unsupervised visitation with Kamille and Kamiya, with
periodic drop-ins, on two week nights a week. She had begun
having unsupervised visitation on the weekends, with [302
Neb. 231] periodic drop-ins, approximately 2 weeks prior to
the hearing. Transportation for visitation was provided by
submitted at the hearing demonstrated that by March 2018,
Nateesha's home was considered to be safe and drug free.
However, a child and family services specialist with DHHS who
was assigned to Kamille and Kamiya's case testified that
she believed it was in the children's best interests for
Samuel to have the legal and physical custody of the
children, with visitation rights for Nateesha. The specialist
testified that the children had been living with Samuel full
time for approximately 1 year and had adjusted well and
formed a strong bond with Samuel.
29, 2018, the court issued, as to Kamille and Kamiya, a
bridge order and an attached parenting plan. The court found
that it was in Kamille and Kamiya's best interests to
have their legal and physical custody with Samuel and that
the juvenile court's jurisdiction over Kamille and Kamiya
be transferred to the district court. The parenting plan
provided that Samuel have primacy in the choices regarding
Kamille and Kamiya's education, religious upbringing, and
medical needs. Nateesha was to have visitation with Kamille
and Kamiya every Tuesday commencing at 4:30 p.m. and
concluding at 7:30 p.m., every Wednesday commencing at 4 p.m.
and concluding at 7:30 p.m., and every Friday commencing at
4:30 p.m. and concluding Sunday at 10 a.m.
court scheduled the next dispositional review hearing for the
other three ...