The Law Office of Mark L. Hayes recently prevailed on behalf of its client in In re L.A.G., No. COA18-283 when the Court of Appeals found the trial court’s decision to terminate reunification as a plan for mother and child was unsupported.
In June 2016, after being in foster care for several months, a child of Mr. Hayes’ client was determined by the State to be abused and neglected. The trial court entered an order establishing a permanent plan for the child, with adoption as the first choice and custody/guardianship as the second choice. After this order, Mr. Hayes’ client filed a timely notice to preserve the right to appeal. A little over a year later, the trial court entered into an order terminating Mr. Hayes’ client’s parental rights based on a finding of neglect and willful failure to make reasonable progress in correcting the conditions leading to the removal of the child from the home.
The Court of Appeals agreed with Mr. Hayes that the trial court erred in eliminating reunification as a permanent plan for his client’s child without making the necessary findings under the statute. One of the statutory sections that would allow for termination of reunification did not apply to Mr. Hayes’ client in this case, so the trial court had to demonstrate that a plan to reunite Mr. Hayes’ client with her child “clearly would be unsuccessful or would be inconsistent with the juvenile’s health or safety.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-906.2(b) (2017). On appeal, the Court found the trial court did not make the necessary findings under that statutory section, and similarly that it did not make the requisite written findings based on the four-part inquiry of another section of the statute. Because the trial court did not make “any of the findings” required to take away family reunification as an option, the Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s order against Mr. Hayes’ client. In re L.A.G., No. COA18-283 at 8.
Please been advised, however, that success in this case should not be construed as an indication this firm will be successful in any given future case, and you should consult with a license attorney to determine the viability of your own case.