In re M.L.B., 377 N.C. 335 (2021)

Reversed and Remanded
  • Facts: In 2015 the juvenile was adjudicated neglected. In 2019, DSS filed a TPR petition alleging several grounds. The TPR was granted, and both parents appeal challenging the findings. This opinion determines the evidence (witness testimony) is not clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that supports the challenged findings that are necessary to support the conclusion of law for any of the alleged TPR grounds. Additionally, an issue regarding ICWA was raised.
  • Under ICWA regulations, the trial must ask participants in a TPR hearing, on the record, whether they know or have reason to know the child is an Indian child. 25 C.F.R. 23.107. By not complying with the mandatory inquiry the trial court could not determine whether it had reason to know that the juvenile was an Indian child. Remanded for the court to make the inquiry and receive the participants’ responses on the record. The court must also “instruct the parties to inform the court if they subsequently receive information that provides reason to know the child is an Indian child.” 377 N.C. at 341-42. The supreme court notes that “All participants should become familiar with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, codified at 25 U.S.C. ch. 12, and the corresponding regulations, including but not limited to the regulations codified at 25 C.F.R. §§ 23.101 - .144, to ensure compliance with the ICWA and to assert objections on the record if compliance in a proceeding has not occurred.” 377 N.C. at 342, fn 3.
Termination of Parental Rights
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