In re A.A., 381 N.C. 325 (2022)

  • Facts: In 2013, petitioner married father and resided with him and his daughter. In 2017, petitioner and father separated. In 2018, petitioner obtained a custody order awarding her exclusive legal and physical custody. In 2019, petitioner filed a TPR petition against mother. The TPR was granted and mother appeals. One of her challenges is to the best interests determination as the GAL did not recommend TPR, the child did not want a TPR, and the father’s rights were not terminated.
  • A court is not bound by the recommendations made by the GAL. The GAL’s recommendations are important evidence, but the court has the authority to weight all the evidence. Not following the GAL’s recommendations is not an abuse of discretion.
  • The evidence does not support mother’s argument that the child did not want mother’s rights terminated.
  • The trial court’s focus at the dispositional phase of the TPR is the child’s best interests and not equity between the parents. There was no abuse of discretion in terminating mother’s rights when the father’s rights were not terminated.
  • Concur: The majority should have recognized as favorable that mother complied with her court ordered child support and did not have an affirmative duty to make sure it was paid to petitioner/child. However, as previously determined, child support payments do not bar a conclusion of abandonment.
Termination of Parental Rights
Best Interests Findings
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