In re K.H., 375 N.C. 610 (2020)

There is a dissent
Newby, J. There's also a concurrence in part and dissent in part, Ervin, J. and Davis, J.
  • Facts: A 16-year-old parent and her 9-month-old baby were placed in nonsecure custody with DSS. Initially, mother and infant were separated (April 5, 2017 through June 9, 2017) but then were placed in a foster home together from December 19, 2017 until August 8, 2018 when they were separated again. The infant was adjudicated neglected and dependent (the opinion does not address respondent minor mother’s status as an abused, neglected, or dependent juvenile but does make reference to her also being in DSS custody). After respondent minor mother made minimal progress, DSS filed a TPR motion on August 8, 2018. The TPR was granted on three grounds: failure to make reasonable progress (7B-1111(a)(2)), failure to pay the reasonable cost of care (7B-1111(a)(3)), and dependency (7B-1111(a)(6)). Respondent mother appeals all three grounds.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(6) authorizes a TPR when the parent is incapable of providing proper care and supervision for the juvenile such that juvenile is dependent as defined by G.S. 7B-101(9) and that there is a reasonable probability the incapability will continue for the foreseeable future. The court must address both prongs of the definition of juvenile based on (1) the juvenile not having a parent, guardian, or custodian who is able to provide for the juvenile’s care and supervision and (2) the parent, guardian, or custodian lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement.
  • There were no findings on the second prong: lack of an appropriate alternative child care arrangement. The findings are insufficient to support the ground.
  • Dissent in part: The proper remedy is remand and not reverse. A reversal is proper when “the record evidence is ‘too scant’ to support the trial court’s decision, . . . , while a remand is appropriate in the event that, even if the trial court’s required findings of fact are defective, the record contains sufficient evidence to permit the trial court to have reached the result that it deemed appropriate in the event that proper findings had been made.” Concur in part, dissent in part at 2 (citations omitted). In reviewing the record, a complete reversal is unwarranted as the trial court may be able to make the necessary findings for a termination based on G.S. 7B-1111(a)(6). At a minimum, the record shows a genuine issue of material fact about whether mother had an adequate alternative child care arrangement
  • Dissent: Agrees with dissent in part.
Termination of Parental Rights
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