In re J.A.M., 795 S.E.2d 262 (2016), rev'd and remanded by 370 N.C. 464 (2018)


CAUTION! REVERSED AND REMANDED BY In re J.A.M., 370 N.C. 464 (2018). On remand, court of appeals affirmed, see In re J.A.M., ___ N.C. App. ___ (June 5, 2018)

  • Facts: Mother had six other children who were involved with the department primarily because of domestic violence with the fathers of those children. Eventually, her rights to the children were terminated. Father has a prior history with the department due to domestic violence. His child was reunified with the mother (who is not the respondent mother in this action). A report was made to the department after the child in this action was born. During the assessment, the social worker determined the home was appropriate, the child seemed healthy and well-cared for, and the police had not been called to the home. Based on the parents’ prior history with the department, the social worker wanted the parents to agree to a Safety Assessment. The parents refused to work with the department. The department filed a petition, and the child was adjudicated neglected. Respondent mother appealed.
  • There were three findings of fact about the child’s current living situation --  one of which was that the mother never acknowledged her role in the termination of her parental rights to her other children. This finding was not supported by the evidence as the only evidence that was introduced was the mother’s testimony that the TPR involved her own poor decisions and choices.
  • The conclusion of neglect is not supported by the findings of fact. The only relevant findings include (1) the mother failed to ask the child’s father about his alleged assault on his own sister and (2) different findings about each parent’s long history with the department and their other respective children who were neglected. Although there was no evidence that the parents remedied the issues that caused prior injurious environments regarding their other children, the department must introduce evidence to prove its allegations of neglect by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. Here, there was no evidence that services were needed to alleviate any concerns about an injurious environment. There was no evidence or findings about current domestic violence or any domestic violence between the parents or in the presence of the child. Instead the findings were about the domestic violence that occurred more than 3 years before this child’s birth. There were no findings that the child suffered from a physical, mental, or emotional impairment or had a substantial risk of such impairment as a consequence of living in the respondent-mother’s home.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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