In re M.S., 247 N.C. App. 89 (2016)

Dismissed in part
Affirmed in Part

  • The respondent is a stepparent, which is distinguishable from a parent under both the Juvenile Code and adoption statutes. The definition of “caretaker” found at GS. 7B-101(3) explicitly includes a “stepparent” and distinguishes a stepparent from a parent. A stepparent is also distinguished from a legal parent by G.S. 48-1-101(18). Without evidence that a stepparent has either adopted the child and become the child’s parent or has been awarded custody of the child though a court order and become the child’s custodian as defined by G.S. 7B-101(8), a stepparent is a caretaker.
  • G.S. 7B-1002 limits who has standing to take an appeal of an order entered in an abuse, neglect, or dependency proceeding, and a caretaker does not have standing.
  • Because standing is jurisdictional in nature, and the respondent caretaker has not proved he has standing as a parent (via adoption) or a custodian (via a court order of custody) to appeal the adjudication and disposition order, he is not a proper party to appeal. The appeal is dismissed.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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