In re A.J.L.H., ___ N.C. App. ___ (Dec. 15, 2020)

Stay granted
allowed 1/21/21
Vacated and Remanded
  • Facts: This action involves three children, where the appellant is the stepfather to the two older children and the biological father of the youngest child. The children share the same mother. After a DSS assessment of abuse based on the use of corporal punishment with a belt that caused bruising on the oldest child, who was 10 years old, DSS and the parents entered into a safety plan. Months later at a CFT meeting, DSS decided to file a petition alleging the oldest child was abused and neglected and the younger siblings were neglected. The safety plan had not been violated but the parents did not believe their disciplinary methods were cruel or unusual. After hearing, the children were adjudicated and the parents were denied visitation. The parents appeal challenging the adjudications and denial of visitation.
  • Neglect requires harm or risk of harm to the juvenile. The prior abuse of another juvenile living in the home, standing alone, is insufficient to support an adjudication of neglect. The neglect conclusion regarding the younger siblings is based solely on the abuse and neglect adjudication of the oldest sibling. Adjudication is reversed and petition is dismissed and children are to be immediately returned to their mother and (step)father.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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