Nebraska Supreme Court Reinstates Appeal Of Sudanese Immigrant Forced To Obtain A G.E.D. In Order To Regain Parental Rights

| by Will Hagle

When a young immigrant living in Nebraska lost her parenting rights, she was ordered by a state juvenile court to “actively pursue either a G.E.D. or a high school diploma” as part of the rehabilitation process required to reestablish her relationship with her children.

The woman, known through court records as Nyamal M, was raising two daughters while attending high school in the state when she lost her children due to accusations of neglect. Nyamal’s case was heard by a juvenile court due to her status as a minor at the time her children were taken from her. 

When Nyamal initially challenged the juvenile court’s decision in the Nebraska Court of Appeals, her case was dismissed. “We conclude that the dispositional order is not an appealable order and, therefore, dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction,” the decision reads. The initial ruling had required Nyamal to “participate in therapy, seek part-time employment to provide financial support for her children, and cooperate with family support services,” in addition to continuing her education at Lincoln High School.

When Nyamal turned 19, she aged out of the legal requirement to attend school and obtained a full-time job. The state asserted that, because Nyamal was under 19 at the time of her ruling in juvenile court, she should have finished her education. Because she attempted to appeal the decision after already dropping out of school, she inflicted upon the court an “impermissible collateral attack on a prior judgment,” so the appeal was dismissed.

According to Court House News, Nebraska’s Supreme Court has reinstated Nyamal’s appeal, redirecting it to the lower courts for further consideration. 

“The conditions for reunification with a parent’s child is a crucial step in proceedings that could possibly lead to the termination of parental rights. We therefore hold that such orders affect a parent’s substantial right in a special proceeding and are appealable,” Justice William Connolly wrote in the court’s decision. 

Nyamal’s children are still living in foster homes.