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In re V.B.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

February 17, 2015

IN THE MATTER OF: V.B.

Heard in the Court of Appeals January 26, 2015.

Editorial Note:

This Decision is not final until expiration of the twenty-one day rehearing period. [North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure 32(b)]

Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Services, by Senior Associate County Attorney Kathleen M. Arundell, for Petitioner-Appellee.

Assistant Appellate Defender Annick Lenoir-Peek for Respondent-Appellant Father.

Steven S. Nelson for Guardian ad Litem.

McGEE, Chief Judge. Judges STEELMAN and DAVIS concur.

OPINION

Appeal by Respondent-Appellant Father from order entered 22 May 2014 by Judge Rickye McKoy-Mitchell in District Court, Mecklenburg County No. 14 JA 84.

McGEE, Chief Judge.

Respondent-Appellant Father (" Father" ) appeals from an adjudication and disposition order, which adjudicated his daughter, V.B. (" the Child" ), as dependent and placed her in the custody of Petitioner Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Services (" YFS" ). We reverse the order of the trial court.

I. Background

The Child was born on 8 February 2014. Three days later, on 11 February 2014, before the Child was discharged from the hospital, YFS filed a juvenile petition (" the petition" ) alleging that the Child was dependent and took the Child into nonsecure custody. The petition alleged that Respondent-Mother (" Mother" ) was, herself, a minor in the custody of YFS. Mother did not have independent housing, was unemployed, and was living at Florence Crittenton, a residential program for pregnant girls. Father, also a minor, was served with the petition. The petition named Father as the Child's parent but, with respect to Father, the petition alleged only that his paternity had not been established. Father participated in a paternity test on 18 February 2014 and, six days later, on 24 February 2014, DNA testing confirmed that Father was the Child's biological father.

The trial court conducted a hearing on 1 April 2014 (" the hearing" ). At the hearing, YFS submitted Father's paternity results and acknowledged that Father's paternity had been established. YFS declined to present any further evidence or witnesses, and purported to rely entirely on the verified petition to support its contention that the Child was dependent. Mother did not object and stipulated to the factual allegations in the petition. Father, however, did not stipulate to those allegations and contested the petition on the ground that it made no allegations as to his inability to care for the Child. The trial court concluded nonetheless that the Child was a dependent juvenile. The trial court then conducted a dispositional hearing. The trial court ...


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