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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Neglect Adjudication – Past Neglect of Other Children

When concluding that baby J.A.M. lived in an environment injurious to her welfare and adjudicating her neglected, the trial court considered not only the respondent-mother’s neglect and loss of custody of her six older children, but also respondent’s (1) continuing failure to acknowledge her role in her rights being terminated to her other six children, (2) denial of the need for any services for J.A.M.’s case and (3) involvement with J.A.M.’s father, who had engaged in domestic violence, even though domestic violence was one of the reasons her other children were removed from her home. The trial court’s findings of fact were based on testimony presented at the combined adjudication/disposition hearing, and those findings support the trial court’s conclusion that J.A.M. was a neglected juvenile.

We affirm the adjudication of neglect.

The trial court properly concluded that J.A.M. was at risk in that there was “no evidence the parents [had] remedied the injurious environment they created for their other children.” Combined with the lengthy record from her past cases, the findings that respondent believed she did not need any services from Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Services, had opted not to directly confront her romantic partner’s prior domestic violence history, and continued to minimize the role her own prior decisions played in the harm her older children had suffered all support a conclusion that respondent-mother had not made sufficient progress in recognizing domestic violence warning signs, in accurately assessing poor decisions from the past, or in identifying helpful resources. It was proper for the trial court to then reach the conclusion that respondent had not developed the skills necessary to avoid placing J.A.M. in a living situation in which she would suffer harm.

The trial court’s adjudication that J.A.M. was a neglected juvenile was based on findings of fact which were supported by competent evidence and included present risk factors in addition to an evaluation of past adjudications involving other children.

Affirmed.

In re J.A.M. (Lawyers Weekly No. 010-002-19, 15 pp.) (Robin Hudson, J.) Appealed from Mecklenburg County District Court (Louis Trosch, J.) On appeal from the Court of Appeals. Matthew Wunsche and Caroline Mackie for guardian ad litem; Marc Gentile for petitioner; Richard Croutharmel for respondent. N.C. S. Ct.

 


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