In re M.J.R.B., 2021-NCSC-62

Held: 
Affirmed in Part
Vacated and Remanded in Part
  • Facts: Three juveniles were adjudicated neglected and dependent, and a newborn was adjudicated dependent due to substance use and mental health issues. Each parent was appointed a Rule 17 GAL. The primary plan was adoption, and DSS filed TPR petitions. The TPR was granted on the grounds of failure to make reasonable progress to correct the conditions and dependency. Both parents appealed.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) authorizes a TPR when a parent willfully left the children in foster care for 12 months and failed to make reasonable progress to correct the conditions the resulted in the children’s removal.
  • Unchallenged findings of fact are binding on appeal. The unchallenged findings about mother’s noncompliance with her case plan addressing substance use treatment, drug screens, a psychological assessment, a domestic violence assessment, medication monitoring, and parenting classes were sufficient to support the ground under G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) for her 3 older children.
  • For the newborn, the court erred in granting the TPR under G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) because the juvenile was only in foster care for 9 months, not 12 months as required by the statute.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Willfully Leaving Child in Foster Care or Other Placement
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