In re H.N.D., ___ N.C. App. ___, 827 S.E.2d 329 (2019)

Held: 
Dismissed in part
Affirmed in Part
  • Facts: In 2014 one child was adjudicated dependent based upon an agreement between mother and DSS related to domestic violence between mother and father. In 2015, a newborn sibling was adjudicated dependent based upon a stipulation by mother about continued domestic violence issues between her and father.  A 2017 permanency planning order (PPO) identified adoption as the permanent plans for the children and not reunification with mother, which had been the permanent plan. The order included findings about the long and continuing history of domestic violence between mother and father. Mother preserved her right to appeal the PPO.  A TPR was filed and mother’s rights were terminated by order dated June 27, 2018. One of the grounds the court concluded existed is the “dependency” ground under G.S. 7B-1111(a)(6). Mother appealed both the TPR (adjudication only) and PPO “ceasing reunification efforts.” Sl. Op. at 4.
  • The appeal of the PPO “ceasing reunification efforts” is moot by the subsequent TPR order. In this same opinion, the TPR was affirmed. Because the findings and conclusions in the TPR order did not rely on the PPO but instead relied on testimony as well as evidence of current conditions and made findings and conclusions not found in the PPO, the TPR renders the appeal of the PPO moot. (emphasis added). This case is similar to In re V.L.B., 164 N.C. App. 743 (2004).
    • Author’s Note: This opinion refers to the PPO “ceasing reunification efforts” but this author believes the appeal is of the elimination of a reunification as a permanent plan, which is authorized by G.S. 7B-1001(a)(5). The court of appeals has distinguished reunification efforts from reunification as a permanent plan. See In re C.P., 812 S.E.2d 188 (2018).

 

 

Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Cease Reunification
Topic:
Appeal
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