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Law School Case Brief

In re Interest of J.S. - 227 Neb. 251, 417 N.W.2d 147 (1987)


As part of its powers, the juvenile court, in its discretion, may prescribe a reasonable plan for parental rehabilitation to correct the conditions underlying the adjudication that a child is a juvenile within the Nebraska Juvenile Code. However, when a parent fails to make reasonable efforts to comply with a court-ordered rehabilitative plan, the parent's failure presents an independent reason justifying termination of parental rights. When parents cannot rehabilitate themselves within a reasonable time, the best interests of a child require that a final disposition be made without delay. Also, when a rehabilitation plan is implemented, the plan must be reasonable and conducted under the direction of the juvenile court before failure to comply with the plan can be an independent reason for termination.


In its petition filed on January 17, 1985, the State alleged that P.L.'s children, J.S. (a daughter born in 1974), A.C. (a son born in 1981), and C.S. (a son born in 1983), were juveniles under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a), because the children lacked proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of their mother. The county court in its orders adopted a rehabilitative plan for the mother, which included parenting classes, counseling, job workshop, participation in one child's education program, regular visits, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous, suitable housing, and proof of rental payment. Thereafter, the County Court for Hall County (Nebraska), upon the petition of the State, terminated the mother’s parental rights for her failure to comply with some of these requirements. Appellant mother challenged the order.


Based on the mother’s non-compliance to certain requirements of the rehabilitative plan adopted by the county court, was the termination of her parental rights over her children justified?




The order terminating the mother's parental rights was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. According to the Supreme Court of Nebraska, the mother's noncompliance was not sufficiently material to justify the termination of her parental rights. The Court averred that the termination of parental rights was the last resort to dispose of an action brought pursuant to the Nebraska Juvenile Code.

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