In re C.J.C., 374 N.C. 42 (2020)

  • Facts: Mother filed a TPR to terminate father’s parental rights and father filed an answer denying that ground existed. An attorney was appointed as the attorney advocate and GAL for the child. The TPR was granted on the ground of abandonment. Respondent father appeals raising as one issue, that the attorney advocate was not appointed as the GAL such that there was prejudicial error.
  • G.S. 7B-1108(b) requires that a GAL be appointed for the juvenile when a parent filed an answer denying material allegations in the TPR petition and state “[a] licensed attorney shall be appointed to assist those guardians ad litem who are not attorneys licensed to practice in North Carolina.” Sl.Op. at 4 (emphasis supplied in opinion).
  • The form AOC-J-207 was used to appoint an Attorney Advocate and GAL for the child. The form has a checkbox for when an attorney advocate is also acting as the GAL, but in this case the box was not checked. A review of the documents and transcripts in the record show that the failure to check the box was a clerical error as the appointed attorney was identified as the GAL. There was not a prejudicial substantive or procedural error. The GAL met his duties as an attorney and GAL when (1) investigating the case through contact with the parties, visiting with the child, and visiting the petitioner’s workplace and (2) reporting his observations to the trial court. His role was unquestioned and unchallenged.
Termination of Parental Rights
GAL for Child
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