In this juvenile matter, the trial court determined that the respondent-mother’s incompetency required the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL) under N.C. R. Civ. P. 17 to protect her rights, given that she was receiving SSI benefits for mental health issues, she exhibited erratic behavior in and out of the courtroom, and the court believed mother was unable to control and fully understand the proceedings. The trial court later released mother’s GAL without making findings that the conditions that necessitated the appointment of a GAL no longer existed. Because the trial court proceeded with the hearing and adjudicated the minor children neglected and dependent, notwithstanding the requirements of Rule 17, the adjudication and disposition order is invalid.
We vacate the order and remand for a new termination hearing in accordance with the requirements of Rule 17 and G.S. § 7B-602(c).
In re N.P. (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-117-23, 8 pp.) (Jefferson Griffin, J.) Appealed from Cumberland County District Court (Frances McDuffie, J.) Patricia Kuchyt for petitioner; Emily Sutton Deiza and Sean Vitrano for respondents; Matthew Wunsche for guardian ad litem. North Carolina Court of Appeals (unpublished)