Newly Enacted "Rylan's Law" To Affect Incoming North Carolina Child Custody Cases

Posted by Blake Caulder | Jul 25, 2017

Every so often there is a traumatic event that inspires lawmakers to reform or shape legislation. These events blaze headlines and highlight issues pertaining to laws or systems that many people were not previously aware of. The death of North Carolina toddler, Ryland Ott, was one of many horrific events that have invoked change in the state's current laws. A new law dedicated to the toddler, known as “Rylan's law,” will drastically affect the handling and mitigation of all North Carolina child custody cases to come.

According to recent reports, Rylan's death in April of last year could have easily been prevented. Police reports indicate that the toddler wandered away from his home in Carthage by himself before drowning in a nearby pond. He died just two weeks before his second birthday. Authorities claim that if he had been properly supervised by his mother, this could have been prevented.

Rylan's mother, Samantha Bryant, had several prior run-ins with law enforcement. In 2015, Bryant and her drunken boyfriend got into an altercation that involved firearms in the presence of Rylan and his older sister Brittany. When the police arrived on the scene, the two children were hiding in the closet. Samantha and her boyfriend were arrested and charged with child abuse and “fighting with firearms in the presence of minors.” As a result of this debacle, Samantha was placed in a mental health ward for a few days while the children were placed in foster care and assigned to foster parents.

However, Samantha was given a second chance by a judge. Even though the mother of two had a misdemeanor charge of child abuse, authorities decided that the charge would be dropped and she would get her children back under the condition that she stayed out of trouble. Four months after this decision, Rylan died.

Many people, including political figures and residents alike, agreed that the decision to return the children to their mother was made prematurely. State Senator Tama Barringer has been vocal about the mistake carried out by authorities.

“We missed an opportunity,” Barringer said. “We could have possibly helped the birth mother but we could definitely have saved the child.”

Legislators hope that Rylan's law will protect children who find themselves in the same circumstances as the toddler was. The newly enacted law requires social service workers to take more precautions before returning children who were placed in foster care back to their home. Now, employees are expected to observe at least two visits between children and parents before informing a judge of who should have custody of the children.

In addition to these major revisions in the social services system, the law also requires the state to hire a contractor to review cases, which shortens the time period for parents to appeal to a custody decision and it allows for youth in foster care to obtain a driver's license.

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Child custody cases are difficult and emotionally taxing. Let us help you understand how to navigate through this complex area of family law. Contact Caulder & Valentine today for a consultation.

About the Author

Blake Caulder

Blake is a North Carolina native who was born in Marion, but grew up in Rutherfordton. While he was truly blessed to be raised in a loving, caring, and stable home, Blake realized at a young age that not everyone had that opportunity and always had a heart to help his friends who were hurting. Upon graduating high school, Blake began working with his father who has a real estate office in Bat Cave, North Carolina, while at the same time, attending Gardner-Webb University. Blake was seeking what direction to go with his career. At the time, the most reasonable thing appeared to be to join his father in his real estate practice. But putting aside the financial aspect and given his passion to help people, Blake wanted to do something that would allow him to take that passion to a whole other level. That's when Blake found the practice of law. Upon graduating from GWU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, Blake was accepted to Elon Law School and was a recipient of a Presidential Scholarship. After completing his first year of law school at Elon, Blake transferred to Charlotte School of Law to be closer to home and his wife. As an attorney, Blake genuinely cares about each individual client. His first and foremost goal is to help every client achieve the best possible outcome in their case and he strives to make a difference in their lives. Blake practices in the areas of family law, criminal defense, civil litigation, personal injury, and estate planning. While attending law school, Blake acquired significant legal experience in multiple practice areas by interning with both the law firm of Tomblin, Farmer and Morris, PLLC and the legal department of Family Dollar. In addition, Blake defended clients in criminal cases through Charlotte School of Law's Criminal Justice Clinic and provided legal services to individuals who were starting businesses through the school's Entrepreneurship Clinic. When not practicing law, Blake loves being involved in the community, participating in the local prison ministry and community service opportunities. He is grateful to have a wonderful wife, Daniella, and they are blessed with two children, Coleman Blake and Candrea Renea.