In re J.O., ___ N.C. App. ___ (May 7, 2024)

Vacated and Remanded
  • Facts: This case involves a child who is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and is an Indian child under ICWA. The child was adjudicated dependent. At initial disposition, custody was ordered to DSS with Mother granted unsupervised weekly visitation. Recurring issues heard at permanency planning hearings centered around Mother’s failure to make progress in improving the safety and cleanliness concerns for her housing and vehicle, and Mother allowing her older son, who has a history of violent and inappropriate behavior, to have contact with the child despite court ordering no contact. At the last permanency planning hearing, both DSS and EBCI submitted reports that recommended changing the primary plan to guardianship. The court ordered guardianship to the child’s guardians, waived further permanency planning hearings, and provided for visitation at the discretion of the guardians. Mother appeals. This summary focuses on Mother’s challenge to the visitation portion of the order.
  • G.S. 7B-905.1 requires an order that continues the child’s placement outside of the home to address visitation, and if visitation is ordered, to specify the minimum frequency and length of visits, and whether the visits must be supervised.
  • The court improperly delegated its judicial function in determining visitation conditions by ordering that the child’s visitation with Mother be at the discretion of the guardians and failing to provide the frequency, length, or supervision conditions for visitation.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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