(a) At any time after adjudication, the court on its own motion or motion of any party may transfer venue to a different county, regardless of whether the action could have been commenced in that county, if the court finds that the forum is inconvenient, that transfer of the action to the other county is in the best interest of the juvenile, and that the rights of the parties are not prejudiced by the change of venue.
(b) Before ordering that a case be transferred to another county, the court shall find that the director of the department of social services in the county in which the action is pending and the director in the county to which transfer is contemplated have communicated about the case and that:
(1) The two directors are in agreement with respect to each county's responsibility for providing financial support for the juvenile and services for the juvenile and the juvenile's family; or
(2) The Director of the Division of Social Services or the Director's designee has made that determination pursuant to G.S. 153A-257(d).
(c) When the court transfers a case to a different county, the court shall join or substitute as a party to the action the director of the department of social services in the county to which the case is being transferred and, if the juvenile is in the custody of the department of social services in the county in which the action is pending, shall transfer custody to the department of social services in the county to which the case is being transferred. The director of the department of social services in the county to which the case is being transferred must be given notice and an opportunity to be heard before the court enters an order pursuant to this subsection. However, the director may waive the right to notice and a hearing.
(d) Before ordering that a case be transferred to a different district, the court shall communicate with the chief district court judge or a judge presiding in juvenile court in the district to which the transfer is contemplated explaining the reasons for the proposed transfer. If the judge in the district to which the transfer is proposed makes a timely objection to the transfer, either verbally or in writing, the court shall order the transfer only after making detailed findings of fact that support a conclusion that the juvenile's best interests require that the case be transferred.
(e) Before ordering that a case be transferred to another county, the court shall consider relevant factors, which may include:
(1) The current residences of the juvenile and the parent, guardian, or custodian and the extent to which those residences have been and are likely to be stable.
(2) The reunification plan or other permanent plan for the juvenile and the likely effect of a change in venue on efforts to achieve permanence for the juvenile expeditiously.
(3) The nature and location of services and service providers necessary to achieve the reunification plan or other permanent plan for the juvenile.
(4) The impact upon the juvenile of the potential disruption of an existing therapeutic relationship.
(5) The nature and location of witnesses and evidence likely to be required in future hearings.
(6) The degree to which the transfer would cause inconvenience to one or more parties.
(7) Any agreement of the parties as to which forum is most convenient.
(8) The familiarity of the departments of social services, the courts, and the local offices of the guardian ad litem with the juvenile and the juvenile's family.
(9) Any other factor the court considers relevant.
(f) The order transferring venue shall be in writing, signed, and entered no later than 30 days from completion of the hearing. The order shall identify the next court action and specify the date within which the next hearing shall be held. 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.
(g) The clerk shall transmit to the court in the county to which the case is being transferred a copy of the complete record of the case within three business days after entry of the order transferring venue.
Upon receiving a case that has been transferred from another county, the clerk shall promptly satisfy the following:
(1) Assign an appropriate file number to the case.
(2) Ensure that any necessary appointments of new attorneys or guardians ad litem are made.
(3) Calendar the next court action as set forth in the order transferring venue and give appropriate notice to all parties. (2009-311, s. 5.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014