In re Z.G.J., 2021-NCSC-102

Held: 
Affirmed in Part
Reversed in Part
There is a dissent
Barringer, J. joined by Newby J. and Berger, J.
  • Facts: The juvenile was adjudicated abused and neglected. DSS filed a TPR petition, alleging 4 grounds. The TPR hearing was held 13 months after the TPR petition was filed. The only evidence at adjudication was the social worker’s testimony that reaffirmed the allegations in the TPR petition. The TPR was granted on all 4 grounds. Mother appeals, raising standing, an improper adjudicatory hearing, and the 4 grounds. This summary focuses on the grounds, where mother argues the evidence did not support the findings, and the findings did not support the conclusions.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(1) authorizes a TPR on the ground of neglect. The only evidence DSS offered was the DSS social worker’s testimony adopting the allegations in the TPR petition. Since the TPR hearing was conducted 13 months after the TPR petition was filed, there was no evidence about mother’s fitness to care for her child at the time of the TPR hearing. Any dispositional evidence that was offered cannot be used to support an adjudication.  The court was unable to conclude the probability of repetition of neglect was likely given the lack of evidence on this issue.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Neglect
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