Legal Question in Family Law in North Carolina

There is a child who was placed in the home over ten years ago. The child was removed from their parents because of drugs and a life of crime. DSS was involved and found a family member that could provide a good life for the child. The child has had issues over the years but has generally been decent. A while back his birth father got in contact with him (technology) and filled his head with lies and the child has now became rebellious. The legal guardian is almost 70 years old and cannot handle an aggressive and angry teenage boy. One of the first times the police was called on him was because he flipped out and started breaking things. Recently, he pulled a knife on his younger sister. Because he has never been in any trouble with the law, juvenile justice can't take him to DJJ and recommends his therapists have him committed. He is on medication for ADHD and something to help control his anger and talks to a therapist weekly and psychiatrist once a month. About a month ago his psychiatrist called the police on him because he became hostile towards her and staff. He was taken to the hospital for a psych evaluation. The hospital medicated the child and sent him home because of covid ("they need the beds" which is understandable) and doesn't think it's an extreme mental health issue. Communication between his counselors has led everyone to believe that the teen is acting out because he wants something he's never had, which is a father. The father told him to, "act out so he can come live with him" which is not the case. When guardianship was granted, the father was in jail under drug charges and would have to go to court to regain custody, which he has not. He has been back and forth in jail over the last ten years. He is still incorporated in the drug life and knows there is no way a judge would give him custody of any of his children. There is a sibling also in the home that is the complete opposite. While out of home placement is an option that is being considered but also held up because of covid, the guardian feels as if they want to relinquish rights all together because the older he gets the more he wants to be like the father he's only seen on social media and seen once in the last 10 years. He has became physically aggressive towards his guardian at times (like when he is told no) because he knows he is stronger. Is relinquishing rights something that would require a lawyer? The police has been called several times because the child was uncontrollable and angry and stated that there was nothing they could do except take him to the hospital because of his age. Again they can't take him to DJJ because he hasn't been in trouble with the law... yet. He has been kicked out of school and placed in a day treatment type of learning environment because he was a disruption to other students. Legally, how can the guardian get help with this situation? DSS refers the guardian to juvenile justice. Which refers her to his team of therapists/counselors, which refers her back to juvenile justice. It is a never ending loop, with all agencies passing responsibility off to another.

Asked on 2/06/21, 9:53 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amanda Houser The Houser Law Firm, P.C.

I am not sure how you pull a knife on someone and not be in trouble with the law regardless of your age - so your story is very suspect. However, assuming at least some of it is true, the teen is likely acting out because that is what the teen chooses to do and because that is what you allow the teen to do. A person chooses to do right and control their anger or not - simple as that. Medication that even the doctors have zero idea of how they work and talking to therapists who likely don't even have their own lives in order is of extremely limited value if any at all. Your description sounds very much like the child needs to simply be routinely physically disciplined to the maximum level allowed by law (which currently is right up to the point just before where the would have to be hospitalized for the physical discipline) and essentially physically forced to act right or suffer increasingly uncomfortable consequences if his poor choices continue. If you are 70 and unable to do that and /or lack the fortitude to do it - find someone who can. If you have done everything you can to raise this child properly and instruct them on what is right and wrong, the fact that they have chosen to act differently is on them and is their responsibility - not yours. It is likely not a failure on your part. If you are not getting anywhere with agencies (which unfortunately is typical) then contact a local family law attorney regarding to having the child removed. And don't feel bad about it or of what happens to him - it was likely all his choice. Best of luck.

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Answered on 2/07/21, 8:46 am

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