In re C.J.C., 374 N.C. 42 (2020)

  • Facts: Mother filed a TPR to terminate father’s parental rights. After finding grounds, the court determined TPR was in the child’s best interests. Father appealed raising as one of his arguments that the court abused its discretion when not making sufficient findings and properly balancing the relevant factors.
  • Standard of Review is whether the court abused its discretion, which results in a ruling that is manifestly unsupported by reason or is so arbitrary that is could not have been a result of a reasoned decision.
  • G.S. 7B-1110 identified best interests factors for the court to consider at the dispositional stage of a TPR hearing. Although all the factors must be considered, written findings are required for only those that are relevant. “[A] factor is relevant if there is conflicting evidence concerning the factor, such that it is placed in issue by virtue of the evidence presented before the [district] court.” Sl.Op. at 10 (citation omitted).
  • Relevant factors in this private TPR do not include the relationship between the child and mother/petitioner’s long-term boyfriend when there was not a permanent plan of adoption. In this private TPR, there is no permanent plan as the term is used in G.S. 7B-1110(a)(3). The factor regarding likelihood of adoption at G.S. 7B-1110(a)(2) “becomes more relevant in a TPR case in which a child is in the custody of a Department of Social Services agency and termination of the parent’s rights leaves the child as a ward of the State.” Sl.Op. at 12. Because the child was in the full custody of the mother/petitioner at the time of the TPR, the likelihood of the child’s potential adoption is not a sufficiently relevant factor.
Termination of Parental Rights
Best Interests Findings
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