Consider the common scenario in which a proceeding under Article 11 of G.S. Chapter 7B is filed to terminate a parent’s rights to their child. How and when an attorney is appointed for the respondent parent in a termination of parental rights proceeding (TPR), whether the attorney is provisional or confirmed, and how the attorney may withdraw, depends on a few factors. Ongoing confusion on these points has led to several appeals in recent years, including a new ruling by our Supreme Court. See In re K.M.W., 376 N.C. 195 (2020). This post reviews the governing principles under North Carolina case law and statutes. Continue Reading
The Indian Child Welfare Act and Subject Matter Jurisdiction in Child Welfare Actions
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)* is a complex federal law that applies to abuse, neglect, or dependency (A/N/D); termination of parental rights (TPR); and adoption proceedings. One of the purposes of ICWA is to provide special protections to federally recognized Indian tribes and the tribes’ children and families. See 25 U.S.C. 1901‒1902.
Subject matter jurisdiction between tribal courts and state courts is governed by ICWA when an “Indian child” is the subject of the A/N/D, TPR, or adoption proceeding. When any of the criteria of 25 U.S.C. 1911(a) are met, the tribal court has exclusive subject matter jurisdiction. When that criteria do not exist, ICWA allows for concurrent jurisdiction between state and tribal courts. See 25 U.S.C. 1911(b), (c). The N.C. Court of Appeals (COA) recently published two opinions addressing subject matter jurisdiction under ICWA. In one case, the COA held that the N.C. court had jurisdiction in an adoption proceeding that involved two Indian children. In the other case, the COA remanded for further proceedings in the trial court in part to ensure the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction in the A/N/D action when it was uncertain whether the child was an “Indian child.”
A takeaway from these cases is that the N.C. court is not automatically divested of subject matter jurisdiction when an Indian child is the subject of the proceeding. But, how does the N.C. court know if it has subject matter jurisdiction? Continue Reading
New SOG Bulletin! Human Trafficking of Minors and Young Adults: What Local Governments Need to Know
My colleague, Margaret Henderson, and I are excited to announce a new SOG resource – Human Trafficking of Minors and Young Adults: What Local Governments Need to Know. Youth are particularly vulnerable to traffickers. County and municipal staff in many departments have either spontaneous or deliberate interactions with youth that provide opportunities to lessen those vulnerabilities, identify indicators of trafficking, and intervene when appropriate. Download the bulletin on the School of Government’s website, here.
This 36-page bulletin is organized into three parts. Continue Reading
Big Changes to Appeals of A/N/D – TPR Orders Designated in G.S. 7B-1001
On January 1, 2019, the process to appeal abuse, neglect, dependency (A/N/D) and termination of parental rights (TPR) orders designated in G.S. 7B-1001 changed significantly. Amendments to G.S. 7B-1001 now require that some orders be appealed directly to the NC Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeals (COA). Other orders have new notice of appeal and timing requirements. Amendments to the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure (Rules) also became effective on January 1st and impact appeals of all orders including those designated in G.S. 7B-1001.
Last week, I attended the Supreme Court’s CLE program, “Information about Termination of Parental Rights Cases and the Rules of Appellate Procedure.” As I listened to the justices and other speakers, I started to hear David Bowie singing “ch-ch-ch-changes.” There are a lot of changes and procedures that you need to know. Continue Reading
Beyond the Bench Podcast, Season 2: Episode 4 — The Case Plan: In and Out of Court
This will be the last On the Civil Side blog post for 2016. We will be back on January 11, 2017. That gives you plenty of time to listen to Episode 4, “The Case Plan: In and Out of Court,” for our Beyond the Bench Season 2 podcast, available now!
This episode picks up where episode 3 ended. There’s been an adjudication of child neglect and an initial disposition order entered by the court. Now the family and department are engaged in case planning. The court is monitoring the progress and ultimately deciding what the final goals for the family are through periodic review and permanency planning hearings. Find out what’s involved both in and out of court. Continue Reading
Beyond the Bench Podcast, Season 2: Episode 3 — The Trial: Adjudicating Neglect
Episode 3, “The Trial: Adjudicating Neglect,” for our Beyond the Bench Season 2 podcast is available now! This episode picks up where episode 2 ended, with the adjudicatory hearing for alleged child neglect in our two different cases. Spoiler Alert! There are different outcomes.
Listed in order of appearance, featured guest interviewees include:Continue Reading
Beyond the Bench Podcast, Season 2: Episode 1, Without a Home
Earlier this week, I wrote a post that announced the introduction to Season 2 of the School of Government’s Judicial College podcast, Beyond the Bench. Season 2 consists of six episodes and discusses family homelessness, child neglect, and the child welfare system in North Carolina. The first episode, “Without a Home” is now available on our podcast website (or through Itunes and Stitcher).
In this first episode, you will hear from two homeless shelter providers and three district court judges who preside over abuse, neglect, and dependency cases. You will learn about family homelessness in North Carolina, whether it constitutes child neglect, and when a person is required to make a report of a child’s suspected neglect to the county child welfare agency (e.g., department of social services). Continue Reading
Season Two of Beyond the Bench, “Homelessness, Neglect, and Child Welfare in North Carolina,” Launches This Week!
Beyond the Bench
For those of you who aren’t in the know, earlier this year the School of Government’s Judicial College started a podcast, Beyond the Bench. A podcast is essentially a radio show that you can get on the internet, so you can listen any time you want. “Beyond the Bench” is about the North Carolina court system and features interviews with interesting people who work in the courts. Our first season was hosted by my colleague, Jeff Welty, and focused on criminal law.
Season Two: Homelessness, Neglect, and Child Welfare in North Carolina
I am the host of Season Two, which focuses on neglect and the child welfare system with a particular emphasis on homelessness. Through six episodes, you will hear about family homelessness in North Carolina, whether homelessness is neglect and requires a report to a county child welfare (or social services) department under North Carolina’s mandated reporting laws, and the different stages of a child welfare case. Each episode discusses a different stage in a child welfare case and includes the various voices and perspectives of the people involved. Those voices include homeless shelter staff, county department social workers and attorney, the children’s guardian ad litem, a parent attorney, and district court judges. Continue Reading
What Is the Role of a Foster Parent in the A/N/D Court Action?
A foster parent provides substitute care for a child who has been separated from his or her family because of abuse, neglect or dependency. G.S. 131D-10.2(9a);10A NCAC 70B.0101. When a parent, relative, guardian, or custodian is unable to care for a child, a foster parent is a critical part of a county department’s plan for arranging for the child’s immediate and temporary safety. Foster parents are likely to have relevant information that will assist a court in determining what is in the child’s best interests. Foster parents may also be interested in adopting a child who has been placed in their care. Does a foster parent have a right to participate in the court proceeding?Continue Reading
A/N/D, ICPC, and Out-of-State Parents: Say What?
If the juvenile court or county department intends to place a child in an abuse, neglect, and dependency (A/N/D) case with a parent who lives outside of North Carolina, does the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) apply? Continue Reading