In re B.C.B., 374 N.C. 32 (2020)

  • Facts: Mother petitioned to terminate father’s parental rights on the grounds of abandonment and failure to pay child support. Father’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss alleging insufficient notice of facts. The motion was denied. After hearing, the TPR was granted on the ground of abandonment. Respondent father appeals.
  • Abandonment under G.S. 7B-1111(a)(7) looks to a determinative 6 consecutive month period immediately before the TPR petition or motion is filed. Abandonment involves a parent’s conduct that manifests a willful determination to forego all parental duties and relinquish all parental claims to the child. Willfulness is a question of fact.
  • Findings of Fact: Findings of fact that are not challenged on appeal are deemed supported by competent evidence and are binding. The appellate court reviews only those findings that are necessary to support the court’s conclusion that a ground exists. Here, the findings of fact about willfulness are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. Although petitioner had a DVPO against respondent, the respondent was not precluded from contacting the child or petitioner’s parents. Despite having petitioner’s parents’ address, respondent did not contact them or send any cards or gifts to the child. Respondent also failed to exercise his visitation rights. The findings support the court’s conclusion of abandonment.
Termination of Parental Rights
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