In re K.A., 233 N.C. App. 119 (2014)

Reversed and Remanded
  • Collateral estoppel does not apply when the two actions require different burdens of proof:  preponderance of the evidence in a Chapter 50 action versus clear and convincing evidence in a Chapter 7B abuse, neglect, or dependency adjudication. No exception arises from the best interests of the child analysis that is applied in both types of proceedings.
  • Facts:  A G.S. Chapter 50 civil custody action between Respondent Mother and Respondent Father awarded legal custody of the parties’ three children to Respondent Father.  The Court found that Respondent Mother had perpetuated a false set of beliefs, in alleging the father had molested and/or abused one of the children, and that the children now believed those false beliefs. Physical custody of two of the children was placed with the father, and the father was ordered to participate in counseling with the third child to prepare her for the transition to his home. One week later, DSS filed a petition alleging that all three children were abused, neglected, and dependent, and the child who was not in Respondent Father’s physical custody was placed in foster care.  At the adjudication hearing, the court determined Respondent Mother was collaterally estopped from re-litigating the issues that were litigated in the Chapter 50 action, specifically the allegations that Respondent Father had abused the children, thereby limiting the evidence Respondent Mother was able to introduce at the hearing. The court adjudicated all three children neglected and the child who was in foster care dependent as well.  Respondent Mother appeals.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Adjudicatory Hearing
Click on a term below for additional case summaries tagged with the same term.