In re D.C., 378 N.C. 556 (2021)

  • Facts: Father appeals a TPR order, arguing the court applied a misapprehension of law when holding the adjudicatory hearing by placing child’s interests over parent’s constitutionally protected rights and treating the child and parent as adversaries. The court stated at the conclusion of the adjudicatory heaing, “we’re hear for this child.” 378 N.C. at 564.
  • A TPR consists of 2 stages: adjudication and disposition. A parent’s constitutional rights prevails over the child’s best interests at the adjudicatory stage. The child’s best interests are the polar star at disposition. The court does not proceed to disposition unless it determines one or more TPR grounds exists. When reading the pre-trial order and the court’s statement at the conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing in its entirety, the court recognized the parents’ constitutionally protected rights and that disposition would not occur until a TPR ground was proved, that it was moving to the dispositional stage, and there the child’s best interests would be paramount.
Termination of Parental Rights
Two Stages
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