In re Dexter

Decision Date06 November 2001
Docket NumberNo. COA00-1435.,COA00-1435.
Citation147 NC App. 110,553 S.E.2d 922
CourtNorth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesIn the Matter of Alexis DEXTER; Aaron Dexter; Dominique Dexter; Alicia Dexter; Aarun Dexter.

Tracy Hicks Barley & Assoc., by Tracy Hicks Barley, Durham, for respondent-appellant.

Cathy L. Moore, Assistant Durham County Attorney, for petitioner-appellee. THOMAS, Judge.

Respondent, Delores Evans (Evans), appeals from a dispositional order that granted custody of her five children to their father and then terminated jurisdiction without holding a ninety-day review hearing.

The children had been adjudicated neglected at a hearing two weeks prior to disposition. Evans, the custodial parent during the time the neglect occurred, contends the trial court erred by: (1) abusing its discretion in granting custody to the father, respondent Aaron Dexter (Dexter); and (2) terminating jurisdiction without holding a ninety-day review hearing following disposition. For the reasons discussed herein, we affirm the trial court.

The facts are as follows: Evans and Dexter are the parents of five children: Alexis, born 3 January 1985; Aaron, born 25 October 1986; Dominique, born 8 June 1988; Alicia, born 21 November 1989; and Aarun, born 30 June 1991. While they were in Evans's custody during the late winter and spring of 2000, petitioner, the Durham County Department of Social Services (DSS), received complaints about their well-being.

On 24 February 2000, DSS received a report claiming that Aarun had a gun, the children were truant, and Alexis wanted to go back to school but Evans refused to attend a school conference. It was believed at the time of the report that Evans had "sporadic mood swings" and was a drug-abuser. On 25 February 2000, Evans signed a protection plan.

On 2 March 2000, however, it was reported that Aarun was arriving at school "filthy and smelling" and that he was being "ridiculed by his peers." He also had behavioral problems that were keeping him from concentrating in class. Kimberly D. Sauls (Sauls), a social worker with DSS, attempted to meet with Evans and have her agree to an addendum to the protection plan to address Aarun's needs. Sauls left phone messages and visited Evans's home, but was unable to contact her.

On 5 April 2000, DSS received information that Aarun was "at school crying and hanging on to the flag pole stating he did not want to go home." Sauls interviewed the children at school, but yet again was unable to contact Evans, despite several attempts.

On 17 April 2000, DSS filed a petition alleging that the five children were neglected. The adjudicatory hearing was held on 1 June 2000, with a stipulation by DSS, Evans, Dexter, and the guardian ad litem as to the findings of fact supporting the finding of neglect. They included that: (1) Evans had not attended to the children's basic needs, including hygiene and dirty clothing; (2) Aarun was ridiculed at school due to his poor hygiene; (3) all of the children except Dominique have behavioral problems in school; (4) the children's self-esteem has been affected by their conditions; (5) the children fail to attend school on a regular basis; (6) Evans did not take action to assure their attendance at school; (7) DSS has provided medical referrals, day care, social work counseling, and school counseling to prevent or eliminate the need for the children to be removed from Evans's home; (8) DSS was not requesting custody, but sought an order for Evans to address the needs of the children, including hygiene, school attendance and mental health evaluations; and (9) DSS has made and should continue to make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for the children to live outside of Evans's home.

The trial court included the following conclusions of law: (a) the children were neglected children in that they did not receive proper care, supervision, or discipline from Evans, or did not receive proper medical care, or lived in an environment injurious to their welfare; (b) it was in the best interests of the children that they continue in the legal custody of Evans; (c) DSS has made and should continue to make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for the children to live outside of Evans's home.

The children continued in the custody of Evans pending the dispositional hearing, which was held on 15 June 2000. At disposition, the trial court made the following findings of fact: (1) Dexter appeared and presented a plan of care for the children in which they would live with him in his Ohio home; (2) Dexter would have support of his extensive family in Ohio; (3) Dexter made arrangements for medical care and expressed an understanding of and commitment to addressing the children's behavioral problems; (4) DSS had provided medical referrals, day care, social work counseling and school counseling in an effort to prevent or eliminate the need for the children to be removed from the home; (5) the DSS court summary and guardian ad litem reports were admitted and incorporated into the order; and (6) DSS made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for the children to live outside the home.

The trial court concluded that the children were neglected juveniles and it was in their best interests to be placed in the legal and physical custody of Dexter. The trial court further concluded that it was in the children's best interests for: (a) Evans to assist the father and children in their packing; (b) Dexter to assure that the children attend school every day and for him to attend to their hygiene; (c) the children to receive mental health evaluations and any recommended treatment; and (d) DSS to assist Dexter in paying for the children's bus transportation and to assist the children in the gathering of their clothing and belongings. The trial court's order...

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21 cases
  • In the Matter of D.R.G., No. COA07-341 (N.C. App. 8/7/2007)
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • August 7, 2007
    ..."[T]here is no burden of proof at disposition. The court solely considers the best interests of the child." In re Dexter, 147 N.C. App. 110, 114, 553 S.E.2d 922, 924-25 (2001) (citations omitted). However, the trial court must support its disposition "with findings sufficient to show that i......
  • In re P.L.P.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • September 6, 2005
    ...court obtains jurisdiction over a juvenile, jurisdiction shall continue until terminated by order of the court[.]"); In re Dexter, 147 N.C.App. 110, 553 S.E.2d 922 (2001) (court's jurisdiction over the minor child terminated on a date certain as provided in the court In the instant case, af......
  • In re K.R.T.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 5, 2017
    ...is no burden of proof at disposition. The court solely considers the best interests of the child." In re Dexter, 147 N.C. App. 110, 114, 553 S.E.2d 922, 924 (2001).Contrary to Father's claim, the trial court heard testimony that he has had no contact with Kevin or Hayes since 2013. Such evi......
  • In the Matter of A.T., No. COA09-813 (N.C. App. 1/5/2010)
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 5, 2010
    ...The "facts found by the trial court are binding absent a showing of an abuse of discretion." In re Dexter, 147 N.C. App. 110, 114, 553 S.E.2d 922, 924-25 (2001). "An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court's ruling `is so arbitrary that it could not have been the result of a reasone......
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