Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The maternal grandparents and guardians of Child (together, Grandparents) filed a petition to adopt Child, alleging that Mother had consented to the adoption, that Father had abandoned Child, and that terminating Mother’s and Father’s parental rights was in Child’s best interests. Father, a non-Indian, answered, alleging that Child was an “Indian child” under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act (NICWA). Neither party disputed that Child met the definition of “Indian child” under those acts. The county court applied both acts, which provide heightened protection to the rights of parents and tribes in proceedings involving adoption of Indian children. Following a hearing, the county court denied the petition because it was unable to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Father had abandoned Child. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) although the ICWA and NICWA apply to this adoption proceeding, not every provision of ICWA and NICWA applies to a non-Indian parent; (2) the county court erred in applying a higher standard of proof to the abandonment element of the NICWA; and (3) the county court erred in finding that Grandparents were not required to show “active efforts” had been made to unite Father and Child. View "In re Adoption of Micah H." on Justia Law

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The juvenile court found Tavian B. to be a child who lacks proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of his parents and to be in a situation dangerous to life or limb or injurious to his health or morals. The State subsequently filed a motion to terminate the parental rights of both parents. Father filed a motion to transfer jurisdiction to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Juvenile Court pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Before the juvenile court ruled on Father’s motion to transfer, the State withdrew its motion to terminate parental rights. Thereafter, the juvenile court concluded that good cause existed to overrule Father’s motion to transfer jurisdiction to the tribal court because the proceedings were in “an advanced stage.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State did not meet its burden of establishing good cause to deny transfer to tribal court, and therefore, the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion to transfer. View "In re Interest of Tavian B." on Justia Law