In re Interest of Shayla H.

Father had custody of his three minor children that were “Indian children” within the meaning of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act (NICWA). The children were adjudicated as being within Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a) because they lacked proper parental care. The juvenile court determined that it was in the children’s best interests for Father to have only physical custody and awarded legal custody of the children to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The court of appeals reversed, holding that the juvenile court erred by not addressing at the dispositional hearing whether the State made “active efforts,” as required by ICWA/NICWA, to return the children’s legal custody to Father. The State appealed, arguing that the “active efforts” standard did not apply to the disposition in this case, but rather, the “reasonable efforts” standard applicable in cases involving non-Indian children applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that at any point in an involuntary juvenile proceeding involving Indian children at which a party is required to demonstrate its efforts to reunify or prevent the breakup of the family, the “active efforts” standard of ICWA/NICWA applies. View "In re Interest of Shayla H." on Justia Law