In re B.E.V.B., 381 N.C. 48 (2022)

Held: 
Affirmed
  • Facts: This is a private TPR initiated by mother against father for willful abandonment. The relevant 6-month period is November 7, 2019 – May 7, 2020. The parties lived together with their child until 2017. Mother obtained a DVPO in 2017 that expired in 2018. Mother married her current husband in 2017. There has been no contact between father and child or mother since 2017. In 2017, when mother asked father for child support, he responded he would not pay. The TPR was granted, and father appeals the ground.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(7) authorizes a TPR on the ground of willful abandonment for the six months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR. Willfulness is a question of fact. Abandonment involves the parent’s withholding of love, care, presence, the opportunity to display filial affection and willfully neglecting to provide support and maintenance. The determinative time period is the 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition, but the court may consider events that occurred outside that time period when determining the parent’s credibility and intentions.
  • Although father argues he had no way to contact mother, he had access to her and her husband’s Facebook accounts and knew the mother’s family.Respondent did not reach out to mother, her husband, or her family. He did not file a Chapter 50 custody action. He did not look at public records for her address. He did not attempt to reach her via Snapchat, which is how they had communicated in 2017. These findings support the court’s determination that he acted willfully, and the ground existed.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Abandonment
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