(a) After an adjudication that one or more grounds for terminating a parent's rights exist, the court shall determine whether terminating the parent's rights is in the juvenile's best interest. The court may consider any evidence, including hearsay evidence as defined in G.S. 8C-1, Rule 801, that the court finds to be relevant, reliable, and necessary to determine the best interests of the juvenile. In each case, the court shall consider the following criteria and make written findings regarding the following that are relevant:
(1) The age of the juvenile.
(2) The likelihood of adoption of the juvenile.
(3) Whether the termination of parental rights will aid in the accomplishment of the permanent plan for the juvenile.
(4) The bond between the juvenile and the parent.
(5) The quality of the relationship between the juvenile and the proposed adoptive parent, guardian, custodian, or other permanent placement.
(6) Any relevant consideration.
Any order shall be reduced to writing, signed, and entered no later than 30 days following the completion of the termination of parental rights hearing. If the order is not entered within 30 days following completion of the hearing, the clerk of court for juvenile matters shall schedule a subsequent hearing at the first session of court scheduled for the hearing of juvenile matters following the 30-day period to determine and explain the reason for the delay and to obtain any needed clarification as to the contents of the order. The order shall be entered within 10 days of the subsequent hearing required by this subsection.
(b) Should the court conclude that, irrespective of the existence of one or more circumstances authorizing termination of parental rights, the best interests of the juvenile require that rights should not be terminated, the court shall dismiss the petition or deny the motion, but only after setting forth the facts and conclusions upon which the dismissal or denial is based.
(c) Should the court determine that circumstances authorizing termination of parental rights do not exist, the court shall dismiss the petition or deny the motion, making appropriate findings of fact and conclusions.
(d) Counsel for the petitioner or movant shall serve a copy of the termination of parental rights order upon the guardian ad litem for the juvenile, if any, and upon the juvenile if the juvenile is 12 years of age or older.
(e) The court may tax the cost of the proceeding to any party. (1977, c. 879, s. 8; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1131, s. 1; 1983, c. 581, s. 3; c. 607, s. 3; 1998-202, s. 6; 1999-456, s. 60; 2000-183, s. 10; 2001-208, s. 23; 2001-487, s. 101; 2005-398, s. 17; 2011-295, s. 16.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014