AMENDING THE JUVENILE CODE UNDER THE LAWS PERTAINING TO ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY.
Amends GS 7B-200(a) to provide that the court has exclusive original jurisdiction of proceedings for reinstatement of parental rights. Amends GS 7B-503 to provide that serious emotional damage to a juvenile, as defined by GS 7B-101(1)e., is basis for the court to make an order for nonsecure custody when there is a reasonable basis to believe the allegations in the petition for nonsecure custody are true.
Amends GS 7B-507 to clarify that the county department of social services (Department) is to provide or arrange for the foster care or other placement of a juvenile in the Department's custody or placement responsibility; however, provides that the court may order a specific placement that is in the best interest of the juvenile after considering the Department's recommendations.
Current law allows the court to direct a permanency planning hearing be held within 30 calendar days after any hearing at which the court finds that reasonable efforts to eliminate the need for placing the juvenile should cease or are not required. Amends GS 7B-507(c) to direct the court to order a plan for permanence as soon as possible after reunification efforts cease or are not required and after the court has provided each party with a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present evidence. Provides that if the court's determination to cease reunification efforts is made at a hearing for which there was proper and timely notice that it was a permanency planning hearing, then the court may immediately proceed to consider all the criteria under GS 7B-907(b) (regarding permanency planning hearings), make findings of fact, and provide the best plan of care to achieve a safe, permanent home for the juvenile within a reasonable period of time. Provides that if the court decides to cease reunification at any hearing other than a permanency planning hearing then the court must schedule another hearing within 30 days to address a permanent plan in accordance with GS 7B-907. Provides that at any hearing at which the court orders that reunification efforts are to end, then the affected parent, guardian, or custodian may give notice to preserve the right to appeal under GS 7B-1001, which requires that the notice of appeal be given in writing within 30 days of the order to cease reunification. GS 7B-1001 also provides that the order to cease reunification is identified as an issue (was, assigned as an error) in the record on appeal of the termination of parental rights
Repeals GS 7B-902 (consent judgment in abuse, neglect, or dependency proceeding) and moves its content to a new subsection (b1) under GS 7B-801. Amends GS 7B-807(a) to provide the court may include stipulations in determining that the allegations in a petition have been proven by clear and convincing evidence. Requires stipulations to be in writing and signed by the party making the stipulations. Amends GS 7B-901 to require the court to inquire at the dispositional hearing as to the identity and location of any missing parent and to address any question of paternity. Provides additional guidelines regarding the court's inquiry.
Amends GS 7B-905(a) to require the clerk of court to schedule a subsequent hearing when the dispositional order is not entered within 30 days following the hearing to determine the reason for the delay. Directs that the order be entered within 10 days of the subsequent hearing required by this subsection.
Amends GS 7B-908 to require that the court make written findings in its post termination of parental rights' placement court review. Adds to the relevant findings to be addressed whether the current placement is in the juvenile's best interest. Provides that the court after making its findings of fact may choose to affirm the Department's or child-placing agency's plan, or if the juvenile is not being placed with adoptive parents, the court may order a different placement or plan that the court finds to be in the best interest of the juvenile. Deletes the provisions of subsection (f) regarding the selection of adoptive parents. Instead enacts new GS 7B-1112.1 providing for the selection of adoptive parents. Continues to rest the authority for the process of selecting adoptive parents with the Department or licensed child-placing agency; however, provides that after hearing the motion for adoption and considering the recommendations of the agency and the guardian ad litem, the court is to determine whether the proposed adoptive placement is in the child's best interests.
Amends GS 7B-1105(b) to provide that the court may, at its discretion, order the petitioner (was, may appoint a guardian ad litem for the unknown parent) to conduct a diligent search for the unknown parent. Also amends GS
7B-1106(b)(5) to require the summons issued upon the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights to be mailed by the petitioner (was, the clerk) when the answer is filed or 30 days from the date of service if no answer is filed. Amends GS 7B-1108 to provide that only a district court judge may grant an extension of time in which to answer the petition or respond to the motion. Amends GS 7B-1109(f) to provide that the rules of evidence in civil cases apply to termination of parental rights actions. Amends GS 7B-1110(a) to allow the court to consider hearsay evidence as defined in GS 8C-1, Rule 801, that the court considers relevant, reliable, and necessary to determine the best interests of the juvenile. Additionally provides that the court must make written findings of the listed criteria that the court determines is relevant. Makes conforming changes to GS 7B-1112(1).
Enacts new GS 7B-1114 to provide that if all of the following conditions are met that a juvenile whose parent's rights have been terminated the guardian ad litem, or Department with custody, may file a motion to have the parent's rights reinstated: (1) the juvenile filing the motion is at least 12 years old, or if the juvenile is younger than 12, the motion must allege extraordinary circumstances requiring consideration of the motion; (2) the juvenile does not have a legal parent, is not in an adoptive placement, and is unlikely to be adopted within a reasonable time period; and (3) the order terminating parental rights was entered at least three years before the filing of the motion to reinstate parental rights, unless the court has found or the juvenile's attorney advocate and the Department with custody of the juvenile stipulate that adoption is no longer the juvenile's permanent plan. Provides additional and specific detail as to the filing of the motion to reinstate parental rights, the supporting information required to be submitted, and the factors to be considered by the court in determining whether to dismiss or grant the motion.
Effective October 1, 2011, and applies to actions filed or pending after that date.
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