In re M.J.M., 378 N.C. 477 (2021)

  • Facts: This is a private TPR. The petitioner resides in and filed the TPR in Robeson County. She is the legal guardian of one child pursuant to an underlying A/N/D action brought in Wake County, and a person with whom that juvenile and her sibling have continuously resided with for 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition. After being served with the TPR petition, mother did not file an answer. Mother was represented by counsel and a continuance was granted upon mother’s request. The TPR was granted and mother appeals challenging subject matter jurisdiction in the TPR involving the juvenile for whom there was an underlying neglect action and the court’s failure to appoint a GAL for the juveniles.
  •  G.S. 7B-1108 addresses when a GAL is appointed for a juvenile in the TPR proceeding. A GAL must be appointed when a respondent files an answer/response denying a material allegation. Here, mother did not file an answer. The court has discretion to appoint a GAL under G.S. 7B-1108(b). Here, a GAL was not appointed – no party moved for a GAL appointment or objected to the lack of a GAL. The issue was not preserved for appeal. If the issue had been preserved, the record does not show the court misapprehended the law by referring to there not being a GAL because an answer was not filed and did not abuse its discretion when proceeding without further delay and hearing that mother’s only evidence she was offering was her own testimony.
Termination of Parental Rights
GAL for Child
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