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In re D.L.W.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 19, 2015

IN THE MATTER OF: D.L.W., D.L.N.W., V.A.W

Heard in the Court of Appeals April 20, 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)]

Alamance County, Nos. 13 JT 38-40.

Jamie L. Hamlett for petitioner-appellee Alamance County Department of Social Services.

Derrick J. Hensley for guardian ad litem.

Jeffrey William Gillette for respondent-appellant mother.

Richard Croutharmel for respondent-appellant father.

TYSON, Judge. Judges ELMORE and INMAN concur.

OPINION

Page 505

Appeal by respondent-parents from order entered 29 September 2014 by Judge Kathryn Overby in Alamance County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 20 April 2015.

TYSON, Judge.

Marisha Nicole Wade (" respondent-mother" ) and Dammien Lamar Worth (" respondent-father" ) (collectively " respondents" ) appeal from an order terminating their parental rights as to their minor children D.L.W., D.N.L.W., and V.A.W (collectively " the juveniles" ). We reverse those portions of the order concerning respondent-mother and affirm those portions of the order concerning respondent-father.

I. Background

On 1 March 2013, the Alamance County Department of Social Services (" DSS" ) filed juvenile petitions seeking an adjudication of neglect and dependency concerning two-year-old D.L.W., three-year-old D.N.L.W., and five-year-old V.A.W. The petitions alleged DSS had received reports respondents were " residing with their three children in a van located in the woods that is heated by a kerosene heater," and respondents refused to disclose their location to DSS or otherwise cooperate with an investigation. The petitions also alleged " significant domestic violence between the parents that places the juveniles at risk" and that the juveniles were denied adequate nutrition and hygiene and subjected to inappropriate physical discipline by respondent-father.

DSS obtained nonsecure custody of the juveniles on 28 February 2013 and placed them in foster care. On 27 March 2013, V.A.W. was placed with her maternal grandmother (" Ms. W." ), who already had custody of one of respondent-mother's two older daughters. The other older daughter, A.I.C., was in the custody of her great-grandmother (respondent-mother's grandmother). Once Ms. W. obtained housing sufficient to accommodate D.L.W. and D.N.L.W., the two boys joined V.A.W. and the older sibling in Ms. W.'s home on 23 May 2013.

At the adjudication hearing on 1 May 2013, based on stipulations entered into by the parties, the court made the following findings relevant to the court's determination that the juveniles were neglected:

e. At the time of the filing of the petition the Respondent Mother and Father were

Page 506

residing at times with their three children in a van located in the woods.
f. The Respondent Mother denies the van is heated with a kerosene heater but states the van is run during the night to keep warm, but also states the van is cool enough to store milk.
g. The Respondent Parents refused to disclose the location of the van so that the Alamance County Department of Social Services can assess safety and risk issues.
h. It is reported there was domestic violence between the parents that places the juveniles at risk. For example, [V.A.W.] has intervened when the parents are arguing.
. . . .
j. At times, the family has difficulty providing for basic necessities such as housing, baths and so forth. Their skin is very pale and dry, needing lotion.
. . . .
l. The Respondent Father is not employed.
m. The Respondent Mother is employed at AW-NC as a factory worker. She works from 6:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. She has been employed for approximately ten months.
n. The Respondent Mother reports she made the van payment for the first time in several months a few weeks ago. She reports the van is not drivable because the ...

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