In re I.K., ___ N.C. App. ___, 818 S.E.2d 359 (2018)

Held: 
Vacated and Remanded

for additional findings

  • Facts: Two children were adjudicated dependent based on circumstances related to their parents’ inability to provide proper care and supervision due to substance use, domestic violence, and unstable housing. Prior to the filing of the petition, the children were living with their maternal grandmother. The children continued to remain in their grandmother’s care throughout the course of this dependency action. The permanency planning order that is the subject of this appeal awarded guardianship of both children to the grandmother and ceased reunification efforts.
    • Author’s Note: The opinion refers to the cessation of reunification efforts and appears to be using that term synonymously with eliminating reunification as a permanent plan. See In re J.A.K., 812 S.E.2d 716, fn 4 (2018). This author believes the order appealed is the elimination of reunification and resulting cessations of reunification efforts as the court of appeals has previously held elimination of reunification as a permanent plan and the cessation of reunification efforts differ. See In re C.P., 812 S.E.2d 188 (2018); In re C.S.L.B., 803 S.E.2d 419 (2017). The order eliminating reunification as a permanent plan is an appealable order under G.S. 7B-1001(a)(5)a.
  • Before a court may award guardianship [or custody] to a nonparent based upon the child’s best interests, it must first find [by clear and convincing evidence] that the parent is unfit or has acted inconsistently with his/her constitutionally protected status to parent. The permanency planning order does not contain that finding. Respondents did not waive that finding as they were not afforded the opportunity to raise the issue at the permanency planning hearing when the trial court did not permit respondent’s counsel to make arguments.  See In re R.P., 798 S.E.2d 428 (2017).
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Disposition (All Stages Post-Adjudication)
Topic:
Parent’s Rights
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