In re D.A., ___ N.C. App. ___, 822 S.E.2d 664 (2018)

Held: 
Reversed and Remanded
  • Facts: In May 2017, the child was adjudicated neglected. The first review and permanency planning hearing was held in June 2017, and the court awarded DSS custody with a trial home placement with respondent father. In August 2017, the child was removed from father’s home and placed with maternal grandparents. A subsequent permanency planning hearing was held in October 2017, and the permanency planning order concluded respondent acted inconsistently with his parental rights and ordered legal custody to the maternal grandparents; waived further review hearings; and relieved DSS, the child’s GAL, and the respondent’s attorney.
  • Issue on appeal: Respondent father appeals arguing the findings do not support the cessation of reunification efforts. “Because the trial court failed to comply with the statutory mandate and adopt a permanent plan for [the child], however, we [the court of appeals] decline to address the argument, and reverse and remand” for the trial court to adopt one or more permanent plans as required by G.S. 7B-906.2. Sl. Op. at 6.
  • Under G.S. 7B-906.2(a)‒(b), (1) the trial court “shall” adopt one or more concurrent permanent plans with a primary and secondary plan identified; (2) reunification “shall” remain a primary or secondary plan unless certain findings are made; and (3) concurrent planning “shall” continue until a permanent plan has been achieved. “Shall” is a mandate to trial judges, and failure to comply with that mandate is reversible error. The trial court never established a permanent plan for the child as required by G.S. 7B-906.2.
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Disposition (All Stages Post-Adjudication)
Topic:
Concurrent Plan
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