In re J.M., ___ N.C. App. ___, 804 S.E.2d 830 (2017)

Held: 
Vacated in Part
  • Procedural Facts: The adjudicatory hearing and a combined initial disposition under G.S. 7B-901 and a permanency planning hearing under G.S. 7B-906.1 were held on the same day. Following the hearing, the court entered a combined adjudication, initial disposition, and permanency planning order. The disposition placed the children in DSS custody. Reasonable efforts for reunification were determined not to be required under the findings of G.S. 7B-906.2(b) (permanency planning). Concurrent permanent plans of guardianship and adoption were ordered.
  • G.S. 7B-901(c) applies to initial dispositions and authorizes the trial court to eliminate reunification efforts when it finds a court of competent jurisdiction has previously determined that a parent committed or allowed one of the enumerated statutory aggravating factors. See In re G.T., 791 S.E.2d  274 (2016), aff'd per curiam, 808 S.E.2d 142 (2017). An order that follows an initial disposition hearing implicates G.S. 7B-901(c) and requires the court to make one of those findings before ordering reunification efforts are not required. Findings from the permanency planning statute, G.S. 7B-906.2(b), are insufficient to cease reunification efforts at an initial dispositional hearing, and G.S. 7B-901(c) factors cannot be “eluded in favor of the more lenient requirements of G.S. 7B-906.2(b) simply by combining dispositional and permanency planning matters in a single order.” The G.S. 7B-901(c) requirements were not met in the combined initial disposition and permanency planning order.
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Cease Reunification
Topic:
Findings of Fact
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