In re S.M.L., ___ N.C. App. ___ (July 21, 2020)

Reversed and remanded in part
Affirmed in Part
  • Facts: At the time DSS filed its petition, there was an existing Ch. 50 custody order regarding the 2 children that awarded mother primary physical custody and father visitation and child support. DSS became involved when the older child disclosed sexual abuse by mother’s boyfriend. As a safety plan, the children were temporarily placed with father but were allowed to return to mother upon the assurance that her boyfriend would have no contact with the juveniles. Mother initiated believed her child but then began to doubt the juvenile’s disclosure, started having contact with her boyfriend, and inquired of DSS what the ramifications would be if she were to marry him. Father remained appropriate and supportive of the juvenile’s account of her abuse. DSS recommended father file a motion to modify the Ch. 50 order, which he filed but his request for ex parte relief was denied due to DSS involvement. DSS filed an abuse and neglect petition for one juvenile and a neglect petition for the other. The court adjudicated the juveniles neglected and entered a disposition that awarded custody to father and referred to an order that needed to be drafted for modification of the Ch. 50 order and termination of the 7B action under G.S. 7B-911. That order was never entered. Mother appeals the adjudications and disposition.
  •  G.S. 7B-911 requires the court enter an order that includes the necessary findings to modify the existing Ch. 50 order – a substantial change in circumstances. There also must be a finding that there is not a need for continued state intervention through the juvenile court proceeding. An order’s compliance with statutory requirements is reviewed de novo. At disposition, the trial court directed 2 orders be prepared and entered: the 7B and a Ch. 50 order. Only one order, the 7B order, was entered. Remanded for appropriate findings and conclusions.


Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Terminate Jurisdiction
G.S. 7B-911
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