In re Interest of Octavio B. et al.

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In re Interest of Octavio B. et al.

Caselaw No.
Nos. 14-484 – 14-489, 290 Neb. 589
Filed on
Friday, April 3, 2015


Summary: Adopting a new permanency plan of adoption or guardianship was appropriate when Melissa R. failed to comply with the reunification plan and an expert testified that she needed a long period of stability before she could parent. The adoption of a new permanency plan for adoption and guardianship is a final appealable order because it affects the parent’s substantial right. Melissa R. is the mother of 6 children under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. The oldest child was born in 1999 and the youngest in 2011. In March, 2013 the State filed a petition to adjudicate the children under § 43-247(3)(a), alleging the Melissa, who was incarcerated, failed to provide adequate supervision. The children were removed the same day and placed in the custody of DHHS, with a permanency plan of reunification. In October 2013, a review hearing was held as Melissa R. had been placed on house arrest, was working full time, and having supervised visitation with her children. All parties were ordered to comply with the case plan toward reunification. Little progress had been made by the next review hearing in January, at which time Melissa R. tested positive for methamphetamine. A the review hearing in April, 2014 the child and family services specialist testified that Melissa R. had not been complying with the case plan and recommended the case plan be changed to adoption, with a concurrent goal of reunification with the father of the oldest three children. Additionally, psychological evidence was presented that Melissa R. had severe characterological issues and is at high risk to return to her pervious problems and Melissa R. stated she was not capable of caring for all of her children on her own. The court agreed to change the permanency goals and adopted a case plan not otherwise in conflict with the goals of adoption and reunification with the father. When counsel for the State inquired, the court responded that DHHS was required to provide services to Melissa R. based on the case plan from April, 2014 that are consistent with the permanency plan. The court adopted the new permanency plan, finding reasonable efforts toward reunification had been made and were unsuccessful. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed. Melissa R. argued the juvenile court erred in finding that the state had presented sufficient evidence to establish the change in permanency objective was in the children’s best interest. The court first established that an order changing the permanency plan from reunification to adoption/guardianship is a final appealable order. The statement from the bench that DHHS was required to continue providing services to Melissa R. consistent with the plan effectively terminated services to her, disadvantaging Melissa R.’s substantial right to care, custody, and control of her children. Next, the Court determined there was sufficient evidence to support the new permanency plan was in the best interest of the children.