In re W.K., 376 N.C. 269 (2020)

  • Facts: Respondent father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his two children, arguing his Rule 17 GAL did not participate sufficiently to meet statutory requirements of the GAL role such that the trial court abused its discretion in conducting the TPR hearing. (The father also challenges the ground of neglect, which is determined to have been supported by the findings that were based on clear an convincing evidence).
  • The role of an appointed Rule 17 GAL and appointed counsel for the respondent parent differ. See G.S. 7B-1101.1(d) (they may not be the same person). Neither Rule 17 nor G.S. 7B-1101.1 specify the exact duties of a GAL. Father’s asking the GAL, what’s your name, standing alone, does not mean the GAL did not satisfy his statutory duties. There was no evidence indicating the question meant the GAL had not met with the respondent or failed to appropriately interact with respondent or represent respondent’s interests during the TPR process.  Although respondent argues the GAL could have been more active at the TPR hearing, respondent has not identified any action the GAL could have taken that would have improved a favorable result in the TPR. Nothing shows the GAL did not adequately assist respondent and protect his due process rights, and the appellate court “will not presume error from a silent record.” Sl.OP. at 10. Respondent has not shown any reversible error by his Rule 17 GAL.
Termination of Parental Rights
GAL for Respondent Parent
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