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Termination of Parental Rights Hearing Requires GAL to be Present

The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently considered whether the word “represent” requires that a Guardian Ad Litem must actually be present at the hearing on whether the court would terminate the parental rights of the Father. In this case, the termination of parental rights was reversed based on the fact that the minor child’s Guardian Ad Litem was not physically present at the hearing in accordance with North Carolina General Statutes ยงยง 7B-601-1108 (2007). A Guardian Ad Litem’s attendance at hearings is mandated, and the Guardian Ad Litem shall represent the juvenile in all proceedings. The Guardian Ad Litem’s absence from some proceedings gave rise to a presumption of prejudice to the Respondent.