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Domestic Relations

Jul 24, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Constitutional – Right to Parent – Insufficient Findings

The respondent-parents insisted that infant “Maury” suffered two leg fractures by falling off their bed; however, the trial court did not assign culpability for Maury’s injuries (which also included rib fractures). The parents have completed all aspects of their case plans, but the county Department of Human Services cannot assess the parents’ ability to apply […]

Jul 24, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Neglect Adjudication – Inadmissible Hearsay

Petitioner DSS does not contest the respondent-mother’s argument that the trial court erroneously admitted out-of-court statements by respondent’s teenage daughter, “Jade” (the trial court failed to make findings of its “careful consideration” of the factors required before admission under the residual hearsay exception, and the trial court erroneously considered Jade a “party oppone[...]

Jul 24, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Visitation – Insufficient Findings & Conclusions

In this case involving three children, the trial court allowed the father of one child visitation but summarily denied visitation to the respondent-mother and to the father of the other two children. The trial court made no findings or conclusions regarding why only one parent was entitled to supervised visitation with his child, but the […]

Jul 24, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Permanency Planning – Constitutional – Right to Parent – Guardianship

Even though the respondent-mother completed her case plan and the respondent-father asserts that he made progress on his case plan, since respondents continue to deny the domestic violence in their home and lack understanding of the needs of their daughter, “Ava,” the record supports the trial court’s dual determinations that (1) respondents are unfit to […]

Jul 24, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Supervised Visitation – Telephone Contact

After “Debbie” had been in foster care for more than a year, the respondent-mother’s attitude towards DSS worsened, and her cooperation with social workers diminished. This was sufficient to allow the trial court to change respondent’s visitation with Debbie from unsupervised to supervised. We affirm the trial court’s order granting guardianship of Debbie to her […]

Jul 24, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Abandonment – Incarceration

Respondent Mr. F, who was incarcerated for a significant portion of his son “Andre’s” life, admitted that he had not seen Andre since 2010 and that the respondent-Mother might not have known which state he was in. While Mr. F’s whereabouts were unknow at the beginning of these proceedings, any lack of notice regarding Andre’s […]

Jul 12, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Support – Stepfather – Parties’ Consent – Arrears

Although the trial court directed the defendant-mother to enroll the parties’ children in supplemental health insurance as military dependents, it is mother’s new husband – a member of the military but not a party to this action – who would have to fulfill the court’s directive. The trial court lacked the power to require action […]

Jul 12, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Neglect & Dependency Adjudication – Insufficient Findings – Darting into Road

The record shows that the respondent-Father picked up his daughter, “Aerin,” and her two younger half-siblings after school, Father threatened Aerin with a “whooping,” and Aerin jumped out of Father’s truck. Father tried to follow Aerin on foot but turned back because no one was watching his two younger children. Father had turned back before […]

Jul 12, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Jurisdiction – UCCJEA – Home State

The trial court originally exercised temporary emergency jurisdiction when it granted DHHS nonsecure custody of “Nancy” and “Nell,” who had recently relocated from Washington to North Carolina. However, by the time the trial court adjudicated Nancy to be a neglected and dependent juvenile and Nell to be an abused and neglected juvenile, both children and […]

Jun 29, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Civil Practice – Personal Jurisdiction – Ineffective Assistance Claim

No summons was issued in connection with DSS’s petition to terminate the respondent-mother’s parental rights in “Mark.” However, respondent was served with a notice of the hearing to terminate parental rights, which specified hearing dates of “March 26-27, 2022.” Respondent appeared at the courthouse on March 26, 2022, and was advised by her counsel to […]

Jun 29, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody Modification & Contempt Motions – Evidentiary Considerations

The defendant-mother filed motions to modify custody and to show cause why the plaintiff-father should not be held in contempt for failing to keep her apprised of their minor son’s (Ian’s) medical and academic appointments. In a single order, the trial court denied both motions. When that order referred to counseling records, it was addressing […]

Jun 29, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – ‘Temporary’ Custody – Award to Grandmother – Constitutional Right to Parent

Although the trial court denominated its order – granting custody of the minor children to their paternal Grandmother – “temporary,” and although the court scheduled hearings – several months out – to consider whether the defendant-Mother was unfit or had acted inconsistently with her constitutional right to parent the children, since the trial court’s various […]

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