In re Beth Ann B
In In re Beth Ann B., 204 W. Va. 424, 513 S.E.2d 472 (1998), the Court spoke succinctly on the requirement of a disposition hearing.
The sole issue in Beth Ann B. was whether a circuit court may terminate parental rights in a child abuse and neglect proceeding without first conducting a disposition hearing, when the parent has signed an agreed order containing stipulations of facts which, if proven, would support a termination of parental rights under West Virginia Code 49-6-5.
Despite the existence of such an agreed order, signed by the children's natural mother and her counsel, the Court decided that a disposition hearing was required and reversed the decision of the circuit court. In syllabus point two of Beth Ann B., the Court held:
"In a child abuse and/or neglect proceeding, even where the parties have stipulated to the predicate facts necessary for a termination of parental rights, a circuit court must hold a disposition hearing, in which the specific inquiries enumerated in Rules 33 and 35 of the Rules of Procedure for Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings are made, prior to terminating an individual's parental rights." (Id. at 425, 513 S.E.2d at 473.)