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Jeremiah J. v. Dakota D.

843 N.W.2d 820 (2014)

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Jeremiah J. v. Dakota D.

Nebraska Supreme Court

843 N.W.2d 820 (2014)

Facts

Jeremiah J. (plaintiff) knew that Dakota D. (defendant) was pregnant, but Dakota told Jeremiah that he was not the child’s father. However, when Dakota put the unborn child up for adoption a few months later, she listed Jeremiah as the child’s biological father. The adoption agency contacted Jeremiah, who said that he opposed the adoption and wanted custody of the child. Jeremiah began saving money from his job earnings to care for the child. When the child was born, Dakota hid the child’s birth from Jeremiah, deliberately trying to keep Jeremiah from timely objecting to the adoption. Jeremiah learned about the child’s birth and objected, seeking custody of the child. Dakota argued that Jeremiah’s consent was not necessary for the adoption because Jeremiah (1) had not provided any financial assistance to the child and (2) would be an unfit parent. Dakota claimed that Jeremiah smoked marijuana daily, had snorted crack cocaine, and had abused her. Dakota also pointed to Jeremiah’s criminal record on small matters and his unstable job history. In response, Jeremiah denied the drug-use and abuse claims. Jeremiah also provided evidence that he had held the same full-time job at $12.50 per hour for the past seven months and that he had saved up $2,000 to care for the child. Finally, Jeremiah argued that he would have provided financial assistance for the child already, but Dakota’s refusal to interact with him made it difficult for him to do so. The county court found that Jeremiah’s version of events was more credible and ruled that his consent was needed before the child could be adopted. Dakota appealed the ruling.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McCormack, J.)

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