State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_7B > GS_7B-1109

§ 7B‑1109.  Adjudicatoryhearing on termination.

(a)        The hearing on thetermination of parental rights shall be conducted by the court sitting withouta jury and shall be held in the district at such time and place as the chiefdistrict court judge shall designate, but no later than 90 days from the filingof the petition or motion unless the judge pursuant to subsection (d) of thissection orders that it be held at a later time. Reporting of the hearing shallbe as provided by G.S. 7A‑198 for reporting civil trials.

(b)        The court shallinquire whether the juvenile's parents are present at the hearing and, if so,whether they are represented by counsel. If the parents are not represented bycounsel, the court shall inquire whether the parents desire counsel but areindigent. In the event that the parents desire counsel but are indigent asdefined in G.S. 7A‑450(a) and are unable to obtain counsel to representthem, counsel shall be appointed to represent them in accordance with rulesadopted by the Office of Indigent Defense Services. The court shall grant theparents such an extension of time as is reasonable to permit their appointedcounsel to prepare their defense to the termination petition or motion. In theevent that the parents do not desire counsel and are present at the hearing,the court shall examine each parent and make findings of fact sufficient toshow that the waivers were knowing and voluntary. This examination shall bereported as provided in G.S. 7A‑198.

(c)        The court may, uponfinding that reasonable cause exists, order the juvenile to be examined by apsychiatrist, a licensed clinical psychologist, a physician, a public orprivate agency, or any other expert in order that the juvenile's psychologicalor physical condition or needs may be ascertained or, in the case of a parentwhose ability to care for the juvenile is at issue, the court may order asimilar examination of any parent of the juvenile.

(d)        The court may forgood cause shown continue the hearing for up to 90 days from the date of theinitial petition in order to receive additional evidence including any reportsor assessments that the court has requested, to allow the parties to conductexpeditious discovery, or to receive any other information needed in the bestinterests of the juvenile. Continuances that extend beyond 90 days after theinitial petition shall be granted only in extraordinary circumstances whennecessary for the proper administration of justice, and the court shall issue awritten order stating the grounds for granting the continuance.

(e)        The court shalltake evidence, find the facts, and shall adjudicate the existence ornonexistence of any of the circumstances set forth in G.S. 7B‑1111 whichauthorize the termination of parental rights of the respondent. The adjudicatoryorder shall be reduced to writing, signed, and entered no later than 30 daysfollowing the completion of the termination of parental rights hearing. If theorder is not entered within 30 days following completion of the hearing, theclerk of court for juvenile matters shall schedule a subsequent hearing at thefirst session of court scheduled for the hearing of juvenile matters followingthe 30‑day period to determine and explain the reason for the delay andto obtain any needed clarification as to the contents of the order. The ordershall be entered within 10 days of the subsequent hearing required by thissubsection.

(f)         The burden in suchproceedings shall be upon the petitioner or movant and all findings of factshall be based on clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. No husband‑wifeor physician‑patient privilege shall be grounds for excluding anyevidence regarding the existence or nonexistence of any circumstanceauthorizing the termination of parental rights. (1977, c. 879, s. 8; 1979, c.669, s. 1; 1981, c. 966, s. 3; (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1331, s. 3; 1983, c. 870,s. 2; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 851, s. 1; 1998‑202, s. 6; 1999‑456,s. 60; 2000‑144, s. 19; 2000‑183, s. 9; 2001‑208, ss. 7, 22;2001‑487, s. 101; 2003‑304, s. 2; 2005‑398, s. 16.)