In re B.L.M.-S., ___ N.C. App. ___ (May 21, 2024)

Affirmed in Part
There is a dissent
in part by Tyson, J.
  • Facts: Infant was adjudicated abused and neglected based on findings of two broken ribs that occurred on separate occasions while in the sole care of Father and Mother, Father’s frequent shaking and squeezing the child when the child was crying, and the child’s exposure to domestic violence between Father and Mother. The initial disposition order placed the child with their maternal grandparents. The order concluded that reasonable efforts to reunify the child with Father were not required based on aggravating circumstances of chronic physical abuse of the child, ordered Father not to contact Mother, and ordered supervised visitation for Mother with the child. Father appeals.  This summary discusses Father’s argument that the court failed to address his visitation rights.
  • G.S. 7B-905.1(a) requires the court to provide for visitation that is in the best interest of the child consistent with the child’s health and safety in an order that continues the child’s placement outside of the home. The court must outline a visitation plan that includes the time, place, and conditions under which visitation may be exercised. Visitation may be denied if the court finds that “the parent has forfeited their right to visitation or that it is in the child’s best interest to deny visitation.” Sl. Op. at 9-10 (emphasis in original) (citation omitted).
  • The order includes no findings that father forfeited his visitation rights or that denying visits was in the child’s best interests. As a result, the court was required to order the minimum outline of visits. The visitation portion of the order is remanded for entry of an order that clearly defines Father’s visitation. Based on its holding, Father’s alternative argument that the trial court effectively denied his visitation and failed to make the required findings as to forfeiture of the right or the children’s best interests was not addressed.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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