In re K.P., 2021-NCCOA-268

Held: 
Vacated and Remanded
There is a dissent.
  • Facts: The juvenile was adjudicated neglected based on domestic violence. Paternity of the juvenile was an issue, and husband was determined not to be the father and another man was determined to be the father. The child was placed with husband’s parents, where his half-siblings were also placed. After an unsuccessful trial home placement, a primary permanent plan of custody with a relative and secondary plan of reunification or custody to a court-approved caretaker was ordered. At the last permanency planning hearing, the court ordered custody to the husband’s parents and with supervised visits to mother. No concurrent plan was ordered as the permanent plan of custody to a relative was achieved, and further hearings were waived. Mother appeals.
  • A failure to make statutorily required findings is reversible error.
    • Before eliminating reunification as a permanent plan, the court must make the findings under G.S. 7B-906.2(b) and (d). The ultimate finding addressing whether reunification efforts would clearly be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the child’s health or safety as required by G.S. 7B-906.2(b) was not made. The findings required by G.S. 7B-906.2(d) were not made. The permanent plan of custody to a relative was not achieved since the child was placed with a non-relative (husband’s parents, who were not the paternal grandparents).
    • The order does not verify the custodians understood the legal significance of the appointment as custodians and have adequate resources to care for the juvenile, which is required by G.S. 7B-906.1(j).
    • Before waiving further reviews, the court must make findings of each of the five G.S. 7B-906.1(n) factors, which the court did not do here.
  • Dissent in part: The permanent plan of custody to a court-approved caretaker was achieved. Because a permanent plan was achieved, the findings of G.S. 7B-906.2(b) were not required. The findings of G.S. 7B-906.2(d) were made. The verification under G.S. 7B-906.1(j) was made and supported by social worker testimony, step-grandfather’s testimony, and the child have lived with the custodians for at least six consecutive months.
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Cease Reunification
Topic:
Findings of Fact
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