In re L.S., ___ N.C. App. ___, 822 S.E.2d 506 (2018)

Held: 
Reversed
  • Facts: In 2015, two children were adjudicated dependent. In the dependency case, respondent father agreed to an out-of-home services agreement to address substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence issues. After the primary permanent plan of adoption was ordered in 2017, DSS initiated a TPR against both parents. Regarding respondent father, the court terminated his parental rights based upon G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) (failure to make reasonable progress) and 7B-1111(a)(5) (failure to legitimate children born out of wedlock). Respondent father appeals.
  • Insufficient Notice Pleading: A TPR petition must state “facts that are sufficient to warrant a determination that one or more of the grounds for terminating parental rights exists.” Sl. Op. at 8 (citations omitted). Although factual allegations are not required to be exhaustive, “they must put a party on notice as to what acts, omissions or conditions are at issue.” Id. Neither the body of the TPR petition nor the incorporated affidavit of the DSS social worker (which is an account of DSS’s efforts provided to the father) refer to the father’s willful failure to make reasonable progress. The TPR petition did not provide sufficient notice to respondent father of this TPR ground.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Pleading
Topic:
Sufficiency
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