503.1Authority Over Parent or Guardian

Last Updated: 12/01/23

Key Concepts

  • The court has jurisdiction over the parent, guardian, or custodian of the juvenile, as long as that adult has been served with a summons.
  • The court also has statutory authority to order the parent, guardian or custodian to attend hearings, provide transportation, and comply with other court orders related to the juvenile.
  • Failure of the parent, guardian, or custodian to attend hearings or comply with any court orders is punishable by criminal contempt.

Jurisdiction and Contempt Powers

The court has jurisdiction over the parent, guardian, or custodian of a juvenile who is under the jurisdiction of the court, as long as that parent, guardian, or custodian has been served with a summons in the case. See G.S. 7B-1601(g); 7B-1805. By statute, the parent, guardian, or custodian of a juvenile is also required to attend any related hearings for which he or she receives notice, and failure to do so (unless excused by the court) is punishable by contempt. See G.S. 7B-2700. Contempt proceedings may also be brought against a parent who fails without reasonable cause to bring the juvenile to court when the juvenile is required to attend, or fails to comply with any other order of the court. See G.S. 7B-2706.

Statutory Authority and Court Orders

The court also has statutory authority to order a parent, guardian, or custodian to do certain things after a juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent or undisciplined. See G.S. 7B-2701 (Parental responsibility classes); G.S. 7B-2702 (Medical, surgical, psychiatric, or psychological evaluation or treatment of juvenile or parent); G.S. 7B-2703 (Compliance with orders of court); G.S. 7B-2704 (Payment of support or other expenses; assignment of insurance coverage). Pursuant to these statutes, and after considering the parent's ability to comply, the court may order the juvenile’s parent, guardian, or custodian to do any of the following:

  1. Help the juvenile comply with the terms of probation or other court orders.
  1. Attend parental responsibility classes, if available.
  1. Provide transportation for the juvenile to keep appointments with a court counselor or comply with court orders.
  1. Pay child support.
  1. Pay a fee for probation supervision or residential facility costs.
  1. Assign private insurance coverage to cover medical costs while the juvenile is in out-of-home placement.
  1. Pay court-appointed attorney fees. See G.S. 7B-2002.
  1. Cooperate with treatment the juvenile needs 
  1. Undergo treatment the parent needs.
  1. Pay for various evaluation and treatment the court orders.

To assist parents in complying with these requirements, the Juvenile Code prohibits an employer from discharging, demoting, or denying a promotion or other benefit to any employee because of that person’s compliance with any obligations the Juvenile Code places on the employee. See G.S. 7B-2705. The Code requires the Commissioner of Labor to enforce the prohibition pursuant to Article 21 of G.S. Chapter 95. To encourage voluntary compliance, the court can provide a written copy of this provision to the juvenile’s parent, guardian, or custodian at the juvenile’s first appearance hearing. For more information, see the related Juvenile entry on First Appearances

Portions of this entry were excerpted from the 2017 North Carolina Juvenile Defender Manual, Chapter 3.5, by David W. Andrews and John Rubin.