In re J.C.-B., ___ N.C. App. ___ (March 16, 2021)

Held: 
Vacated and Remanded
  • Facts: This is the second appeal of a permanency planning order. This case started in 2017, when the juvenile was 13 years old and was adjudicated neglected and dependent due to his mother’s mental health and its impact on her parenting. He is now 17. Since the start of the case, he has been placed with his grandmother. In the first appeal, the permanent plan of custody with grandmother and transfer of the action to a Chapter 50 civil custody action pursuant to G.S. 7B-911 was vacated and remanded. While that first appeal was pending, mother and son started emailing one another and mother was ordered to not have contact with her son. On remand, the court ordered custody to grandmother, eliminated reunification as a permanent plan, and ordered no contact between mother and juvenile until recommended by the juvenile’s therapist. Mother appeals.
  • Standard of review for whether a parent has acted inconsistently with their parental rights is de novo, which is when the appellate court “considers the matter anew and freely substitutes judgment for that of the lower tribunal.” Sl.Op. ¶15.
    • A permanent custody order that awards custody to a non-parent must be vacated when the order does not find by clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit or has acted inconsistently with their constitutionally protected rights.
    • There was no evidence or findings to conclude mother was unfit or acted inconsistently with her parental rights. The evidence showed mother responded to emails from her son, attended counseling appointments with him, complied with her case plan requirements, filed a motion for contempt against grandmother when visits were withheld, and was working as a teacher.
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Disposition (All Stages Post-Adjudication)
Topic:
Parent’s Rights
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