In re Z.G.J., 378 N.C. 500 (2021)

Affirmed in Part
Reversed in Part
There is a dissent
Barringer, J. joined by Newby J. and Berger, J.
  • Facts: The Juvenile was adjudicated neglected and abused. DSS filed a TPR petition, which was verified by the DSS social worker. The petition stated “[t]he petitioner is Toia Johnson, a social worker employed by the Iredell County Department of Social Services.” 378 N.C. at 505. The DSS address was listed and G.S. 7B-1103(a)(3) was identified as the basis for standing by a DSS with custody of the juvenile through a court order. The custody order was attached to and incorporated in the petition. The court ordered the TPR on all four grounds alleged. Mother appeals, challenging standing and thus subject matter jurisdiction as well as the grounds. This summary focuses on standing, where mother argues the petition was filed in the social worker’s individual capacity such that she did not have standing.
  • Standing is jurisdictional , and the party challenging the court’s jurisdiction has the burden of showing the court did not properly exercise jurisdiction.
  • Standing in a TPR is set forth at G.S. 7B-1103, and subsection (a)(3) authorizes a TPR to be filed by a county DSS who has custody of the juvenile through a court order. Reading the allegations as a whole, the social worker identified herself as an employee of the DSS, listed the DSS address, and alleged standing under G.S. 7B-1103(a)(3). It is clear the social worker filed the TPR petition in her capacity as the representative of DSS. Mother did not meet her burden of proving otherwise.
Termination of Parental Rights
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
G.S. 7B Jurisdiction
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