In re B.H., 278 N.C. App. 183 (2021)

  • Facts: The juvenile was adjudicated neglected and dependent and was placed in DSS custody, who continued their placement with relatives (which began with nonsecure custody). At a permanency planning hearing, the court awarded permanent guardianship to the relatives the child was placed with and ordered supervised visitation. Mother appealed, arguing the court did not properly verify the guardians understood the legal significance of their appointment.
  • G.S. 7B-600(c) and -906.1(j) requires the court verify the person being appointed as guardian understands the legal significance of the appointment and will have adequate resources to appropriately care for the juvenile. Specific findings are not required but there must be competent evidence to demonstrate the guardian’s understanding. When two people are appointed, there must be sufficient evidence that both of them understand.
  • There is sufficient competent evidence for the court to have made a proper verification. Any evidence that is relevant, reliable, and necessary to determine the juvenile’s needs and most appropriate disposition may be considered by the court at a permanency planning hearing. G.S. 7B-906.1(c). Sufficient evidence may include social worker testimony, a court summary, a home study, and/or the testimony of the proposed guardian that addresses the guardians’ understanding. Here, there was testimony from one proposed guardian and the social worker as well as a home study. The testimony of one of the proposed guardians about the collective understanding of both proposed guardians is sufficient to find both understood; using the word “we” regarding their discussions between themselves and with the social worker about meeting the children’s needs – raising them and providing a stable environment, education, love, care, and teaching them things. Regarding the social worker’s testimony, an affirmative response of “yes” to a question of whether the guardian understands the appointment is sufficient.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Disposition (All Stages Post-Adjudication)
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