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In re J.S.K.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

December 5, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF: J.S.K. and J.E.K.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 16 November 2017.

         Appeal by respondent-mother from order entered 17 February 2017 by Judge William G. Hamby, Jr. in Cabarrus County, Nos. 15 JT 4-5 District Court.

          Hartsell & Williams, P.A., by Brittany M. Love and H. Jay White, for petitioner-appellee Cabarrus County Department of Human Services.

          Michelle S. Spak for guardian ad litem.

          Julie C. Boyer for respondent-appellant mother.

          BERGER, Judge.

         Respondent-mother appeals from the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to her minor children, J.S.K. and J.E.K. Respondent-mother argues the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss because the motion to terminate her parental rights did not allege sufficient facts. For the following reasons, we reverse.

         Factual & Procedural Background

         The Cabarrus County Department of Human Services ("CCDHS") filed juvenile petitions on January 16, 2015 alleging that the children were neglected due to Respondent-mother's history of untreated mental health and substance abuse issues, domestic violence, and improper care.

         CCDHS took the children into nonsecure custody, and a hearing was held on the petitions on June 11, 2015. The trial court's August 26, 2015 order adjudicated the children neglected as alleged in the petitions. The trial court set the permanent plan as reunification and granted Respondent-mother one hour of supervised visitation a week.

         The trial court changed the permanent plan to adoption after a review hearing on November 12, 2015. The trial court found that Respondent-mother's progress in correcting the conditions which led to the children's removal was "insufficient for the court to be assured that the juveniles could safely return to her care." The trial court ceased reunification efforts with Respondent-mother in a permanency planning order entered January 4, 2016.

         On May 20, 2016, CCDHS filed a motion in the cause to terminate Respondent-mother's parental rights to both children. The motion alleged that the minor children were neglected and dependent juveniles; that Respondent-mother had willfully left the children in care or placement outside her custody for twelve months without showing reasonable progress in correcting the conditions which led to their placement; and that Respondent-mother willfully failed to pay a reasonable cost of care. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(1)-(3) (2015).

          At the start of the termination hearing on November 10, 2016, Respondent-mother moved to dismiss the motion to terminate her parental rights, arguing that the motion merely recited the statutory grounds without alleging any specific facts. In an order entered February 17, 2017, the trial court terminated Respondent-mother's parental rights to both children based on all alleged grounds. Respondent-mother timely appealed, and argues the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss because the motion to terminate her parental rights did not state facts sufficient to warrant a determination that one or more grounds for termination of parental rights existed. We agree.

         Standard ...


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