In re K.W., 272 N.C. App. 487 (2020)

  • Facts: DSS became involved after mother reported to the child’s therapist that the children were abused and neglected by their father when there were in his care (joint custody had been ordered under a G.S. Chapter 50 order). Mother made numerous reports of the children’s mistreatment by father to various professionals, including medical providers who were assessing the children for abuse, and law enforcement. All of mother’s allegations were false. The children would repeat mother’s false disclosures and the older child was fearful and anxious about seeing her father and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. DSS filed a petition and obtained a nonsecure custody order where the children were placed with their father. Based on several inappropriate incidents involving mother and visitation, the court limited her visitation to electronic only. The court adjudicated the older juvenile abused and neglected and the younger juvenile neglected. At disposition, no new evidence was taken; mother was self-represented (with standby counsel), and after arguments were made the court ordered mother visitation remain the same but authorized DSS to allow for in-person visitation when she made progress on her case plan. Mother appeals the abuse adjudication and disposition.
  • Abuse under G.S. 7B-101(1)e. occurs when a parent has created or allows to be created serious emotional damage to the juvenile including severe anxiety. A formal diagnosis is not required. The evidence showed the juvenile had severe anxiety from the “high level of acrimony and vilification of Respondent/father by Respondent/mother.” Sl.Op. at 8. The findings of fact support the abuse adjudication. The identification of the mother as the parent who created the emotional damage provided clarity in the order and is not reversible error even though “the adjudication of the child was abused concerns only the status of the child, not the fault or culpability of the parent.” Id.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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