In re B.S., 378 N.C. 1 (2021)

  • Facts: Respondent father’s parental rights were terminated on several grounds. Father appeals, raising for the first time on appeal ineffective assistance of counsel warranting reversal of the ground that he failed to legitimate or establish paternity for his child (G.S. 7B-1111(a)(5)). He argues his attorney failed to advise him of the need to execute an affidavit of paternity or explained how to establish paternity as ordered by the court.
  • Parents who are indigent have the right to court-appointed counsel in a TPR proceeding. G.S. 7B-1101.1. To give this statutory right meaning, the attorney must provide effective assistance. Ineffective assistance of counsel requires the respondent show that (1) the counsel’s performance was deficient and (2) the deficiency was so serious that it deprived him of a fair hearing – meaning there is a reasonable probability that but for the deficiency there would have been a different result.
  • Father did not meet his burden to prove ineffective assistance of counsel. A parent will not be protected from a TPR because of an absence of knowledge of his parental duties, and any alleged failure by an attorney to advise a parent-client of their inherent duty to parent is not prejudicial. There is no reasonable probability that any alleged deficiency by the attorney would have affected the outcome of the TPR.
Termination of Parental Rights
Appointment of Counsel
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
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