In re R.L.G., ___ N.C. App. ___, 816 S.E.2d 914 (2018)

Held: 
Vacated and Remanded
  • Facts: At the adjudication hearing, DSS read respondent mother’s (RM) admission into the record, and mother agreed to the truth of the admission under oath. RM admitted that the juvenile is neglected in that she did not provide proper care and supervision, ensure regular school attendance, the child had 25 absences and 37 tardies in one school year and did not pass 3 core classes, and RM did not take her child to medical well child visits. The court accepted the admission, adjudicated neglect based solely on the admission, and moved on to the disposition hearing. Separate adjudication and initial disposition orders were entered, which RM appealed.
  • The procedure used here was a stipulation to certain facts by RM under G.S. 7B-807 and not a valid consent order under G.S. 7B-801(b1). The findings of fact do not support the conclusion that the juvenile is neglected. RM’s admission that the child is “neglected” is a conclusion of law, and “stipulations as to questions of law are generally held invalid and ineffective, and not binding upon the courts, either trial or appellate.” Sl. Op. at 9-10 (citation omitted). 
  • The doctrine of invited error, which “applies to ‘a legal error that is not a cause for complaint because the error occurred through the fault of the party now complaining’ ” does not apply to RM. Sl. Op. at 12 (citation omitted). RM stipulated to facts about the child’s school attendance, grades, and missed medical visits and did not request the trial court adjudicate neglect or remove her child from her care. This case is distinguished from In re K.C., 199 N.C. App. 557 (2009), where the doctrine of invited error did apply to a respondent mother regarding an order that did not provide for visitation.
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Appeal
Topic:
Invited Error
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