Earlier today, the Court of Appeals published In re K.M., an opinion that examines a trial court’s permanency planning order awarding supervised visitation between a mother and her child but temporarily suspending that visitation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more than a year, pandemic restrictions have been imposed by state and local orders as well as by decisions made by individual businesses and agencies. These restrictions have impacted some court orders of visitation between parents and children that were either in effect or entered during this period. Most often, the impact has resulted in the reduction of a parent’s time with their child – either by suspending in-person visits, converting in-person visits to electronic communication, or reducing the length or frequency of visits. Questions about the appropriateness of and/or authority to make those changes to visitation orders with or without court approval have been raised. Today’s appellate decision is the first opinion that discusses this issue. However, the basis for a temporary suspension of visits is not necessarily unique to the COVID-19 pandemic. This opinion may provide guidance for the suspension of visits generally. Continue Reading
The last 14 months have encompassed a year like no other because of COVID-19. As a country, we have experienced unimaginable loss of life. In our own communities and lives, we have transitioned to a new normal – one that feels more like a sci fi movie plot than our actual reality. But, reality it has been. Thankfully, we appear to be slowly moving our way back to what was once familiar. As we live in this pandemic, laws responding to the impact of COVID 19 have been passed by Congress and our own state. At the end of December 2020, Congress passed a COVID relief bill – the Consolidated Appropriations Act. There are components of that Act that have been heavily reported on – the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits for example.
Did you know that same federal law imposed a moratorium on young adults aging out of extended foster care and modifies the eligibility terms for participation in that program? In North Carolina, that program is the Foster Care 18-21 Program. What does that mean for those young adults? Do you know a young adult who was terminated from the program this calendar year? They may opt back in. Continue Reading
For those who know me, I have been referring to 2020 as the lost year. We have lost so much – lives, family time, social gatherings, routines, and our general way of life. Some of these changes are permanent, like the loss of those we love who have died, and others are temporary albeit longer than many of us initially thought and planned for. As this calendar year approaches its end, the COVID-19 numbers are increasing. State and local entities continue to issue protective measures. Questions about the implementation of those measures have arisen. This week, two of my colleagues have written blog posts for the School’s Coates’ Canons blog discussing remedies, including whether civil penalties may be imposed, for violations of state or local orders. I am sharing those posts with you here.Continue Reading
On Friday, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered two emergency directives to reduce the spread of infection from COVID-19. On Saturday, Governor Roy Cooper entered an executive order prohibiting mass gatherings and ordering the statewide closure of public schools.Continue Reading^ Back to Top