In re R.L.O., 375 N.C. 655 (2020)

  • Facts: DSS filed a petition alleging the juvenile was neglected and dependent. The child’s GAL filed a TPR petition. The court consolidated the proceedings. The children were adjudicated neglected and dependent and the court terminated the parents’ rights on all 3 grounds that were alleged in the TPR petition. The parents appealed, and the court of appeals vacated father’s TPR on the ground of neglect and remanded for additional findings about the probability of repetition of neglect and authorized the trial court to receive additional evidence in its discretion. On remand, the trial court did not receive additional evidence but did make additional findings, concluded grounds existed, and granted the TPR. Father appealed arguing the court erred by not taking additional evidence for both the grounds and disposition and that the findings do not support a likelihood of future neglect.
  • Remand: “Whether or not to receive additional evidence on remand is a determination within the trial court’s discretion so long as the reviewing court’s mandate does not specify otherwise.” 5. The remand in this case stated “the court may receive additional evidence as it deems appropriate,” which explicitly left that decision to the trial court. 6.
  • Respondent stipulated the court could enter an order without taking additional evidence. Father argues the court abused its discretion by accepting the stipulation because it did not consider the children’s current circumstances when determining best interests. The court was not bound by that stipulation and could have taken new evidence in its discretion. Father did not demonstrate a need for new evidence beyond speculation, which is insufficient to show an abuse of discretion by the trial court. Respondent did not forecast evidence concerning the current circumstances.
  • The findings support the conclusion. There was no abuse of discretion.
Termination of Parental Rights
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