In re L.A.J., 381 N.C. 147 (2022)

  • Facts: This a private TPR brough in May 2020 by custodians who resided with the child in North Carolina. Respondents reside out of state. Mother was served in Ohio and did not file an answer. Mother was appointed counsel. The TPR hearing was continued 3 times: July, October, and December. At the last continuance, the parties were notified the hearing would be in February and notice of a February 2021 hearing was served in late January. At the hearing, mother was not present, and her attorney moved for a continuance, which was denied. The TPR was granted and mother appeals, arguing the court abused its discretion in denying the motion to continue.
  • The motion to continue is reviewed for an abuse of discretion as a constitutional basis for the continuance was not raised. The burden of showing extraordinary circumstances exist to continue a TPR hearing beyond 90 days is on the party seeking the continuance. Continuances are disfavored.
  • Mother did not meet her burden. There was no specific explanation for why mother was not present. She had notice in December that a hearing would be the week of February 8th and she received a copy of the notice of hearing from her attorney days before the hearing. No abuse of discretion.
Termination of Parental Rights
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