7B-901. Initial dispositional hearing.

(a) The dispositional hearing shall take place immediately following the adjudicatory hearing and shall be concluded within 30 days of the conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing. The dispositional hearing may be informal and the court may consider written reports or other evidence concerning the needs of the juvenile. The juvenile and the juvenile's parent, guardian, or custodian shall have the right to present evidence, and they may advise the court concerning the disposition they believe to be in the best interests of the juvenile. The court may consider any evidence, including hearsay evidence as defined in G.S. 8C-1, Rule 801, including testimony or evidence from any person who is not a party, that the court finds to be relevant, reliable, and necessary to determine the needs of the juvenile and the most appropriate disposition.

(b) At the dispositional hearing, the court shall inquire as to the identity and location of any missing parent and whether paternity is at issue. The court shall include findings of the efforts undertaken to locate the missing parent and to serve that parent and efforts undertaken to establish paternity when paternity is an issue. The order may provide for specific efforts in determining the identity and location of any missing parent and specific efforts in establishing paternity. The court shall also inquire about efforts made to identify and notify relatives, parents, or other persons with legal custody of a sibling of the juvenile, as potential resources for placement or support.

(c) If the disposition order places a juvenile in the custody of a county department of social services, the court shall direct that reasonable efforts for reunification as defined in G.S. 7B-101 shall not be required if the court makes written findings of fact pertaining to any of the following, unless the court concludes that there is compelling evidence warranting continued reunification efforts:

(1) A court of competent jurisdiction determines or has determined that aggravated circumstances exist because the parent has committed or encouraged the commission of, or allowed the continuation of, any of the following upon the juvenile:

a. Sexual abuse.

b. Chronic physical or emotional abuse.

c. Torture.

d. Abandonment.

e. Chronic or toxic exposure to alcohol or controlled substances that causes impairment of or addiction in the juvenile.

f. Any other act, practice, or conduct that increased the enormity or added to the injurious consequences of the abuse or neglect.

(2) A court of competent jurisdiction terminates or has terminated involuntarily the parental rights of the parent to another child of the parent.

(3) A court of competent jurisdiction determines or has determined that (i) the parent has committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent; (ii) has aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of the child or another child of the parent; (iii) has committed a felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent; (iv) has committed sexual abuse against the child or another child of the parent; or (v) has been required to register as a sex offender on any government-administered registry.

(d) When the court determines that reunification efforts are not required, the court shall order a permanent plan as soon as possible, after providing each party with a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present evidence. The court shall schedule a subsequent hearing within 30 days to address the permanent plans in accordance with G.S. 7B-906.1 and G.S. 7B-906.2. (1979, c. 815, s. 1; 1981, c. 469, s. 18; 1998-202, s. 6; 1999-456, s. 60; 2003-62, s. 1; 2005-398, s. 4; 2007-276, s. 2; 2011-295, s. 7; 2013-129, s. 22; 2015-135, s. 2.4; 2015-136, s. 9; 2015-264, s. 34(a); 2016-94, s. 12C.1(g); 2018-86, s. 2.)