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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Reunification Cessation – Grandparents’ Guardianship

The trial court found that the respondent-Mother was unfit or had acted inconsistently with her constitutional right to parent, yet the court concluded that Mother was unfit and had acted inconsistently with her constitutional right to parent. Nevertheless, the record shows both unfitness and inconsistent acts.

We affirm the trial court’s order ceasing reunification efforts and appointing the paternal grandparents as “Derrick’s” guardians.

There was evidence of numerous safety concerns regarding Derrick and his siblings which included domestic violence, lack of parenting skills, and lack of stable housing. Further, evidence tended to show not only that Mother and Derrick’s Father engaged in domestic altercations, verbal and physical, in the presence of the children, but also used drugs in the home. Additionally, Mother frequently returned to Father, abandoning plans to keep herself and the children safe. Notably, when the children were removed from the home in 2020 by Cabarrus County Department of Human Services, they found the home extremely cluttered, a lack of safe sleeping arrangements for Derrick, dog feces on the floor, and food on both the floor and in the sink.

In addition, the trial court found that, until recently, Mother had not put the needs and safety of her children before her own needs in more than two years. The trial court also found that Mother had abdicated her parental role and responsibilities by allowing CCDHS and the paternal grandparents to provide for Derrick’s needs, by leaving Derrick in CCDHS primary care, and by failing to provide substantial care and maintenance for Derrick while he was with the paternal grandparents.

The evidence in the record together with these findings indicate that not only has Mother failed to provide suitable, safe housing for her children but also that Derrick and his siblings have previously been and would be at substantial risk of harm from the parents. Reviewing this evidence, we hold that the trial court did not err in its findings or conclusion that Mother is unfit and has acted inconsistently with her protected status as a parent.

Even though the paternal grandfather did not testify himself, the paternal grandmother’s testimony showed that both paternal grandparents understood the significance of accepting guardianship of Derrick because, not only had Derrick lived with them for more than a year, but also, during that time, they took care of his every need.

Affirmed.

In re D.D.H. (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-463-22, 19 pp.) (Darren Jackson, J.) Appealed from Cabarrus County District Court (Michael Knox, J.) Jacky Brammer for respondent; Garrison White for petitioner; Wesley Tripp for guardian ad litem. 2022-NCCOA-752


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