In re G.T., 791 S.E.2d 274 (2016), aff'd per curiam, 370 N.C. 387 (2017)

Held: 
Affirmed
There is a dissent
in the COA opinion
  • GS 7B-901(c)(1)e. authorizes a court to cease reunification efforts with a parent “if the trial court makes a finding that: a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that aggravated circumstances exist because the parent has committed or encouraged the commission of, or allowed the continuation of, any of the following upon the juvenile: …  chronic or toxic exposure to alcohol or controlled substances that causes impairment of or addiction in the juvenile.”
  • Statutory interpretation requires a plain and unambiguous reading of the statute to determine legislative intent. Based on the different verb tenses used in the statute, the present perfect tense of “has determined” requires that the court reference a prior order from a previously held hearing rather than make a determination in the current disposition hearing. This previously held hearing could be an adjudicatory or other prior hearing in the same juvenile case or in a collateral proceeding held in a trial court. The prior adjudication order did not contain the ultimate finding of fact that the respondent mother allowed the continuation of chronic or toxic exposure to controlled substances that caused impairment of or addition in the newborn. The findings that toxicology results for the newborn were pending and that the newborn’s withdrawal and impairment at birth supported the neglect adjudication but not the ultimate finding of fact needed to cease reasonable efforts with the respondent mother. 
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Cease Reunification
Topic:
Findings of Fact
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