In re C.K.I., 2021-NCSC-131

Held: 
Affirmed
  • Facts: The juvenile was adjudicated neglected and ultimately custody was ordered to the grandfather and step-grandmother via a transfer of the 7B action to a Chapter 50 action under G.S. 7B-911. Later, mother was ordered sole legal and physical custody of the child via a modification order. At some points, mother asked father to agree to the child’s name change, which father refused to agree to. Father was incarcerated for parts of the child’s life. Mother filed to terminate father’s parental rights, alleging father had not pursued a relationship with the child since 2014. The TPR was granted, and father appeals arguing the findings of fact do not support the grounds.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(7) authorizes a TPR on the ground of willful abandonment for the 6 consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition. Abandonment involves the willful or intentional conduct by the parent that evinces a settled purpose to forego all parental duties and relinquish all parental claims to the child. Willfulness is a question of fact. The determinative time period is the 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition, but a court may consider the parent’s conduct outside of that period when determining the parent’s credibility and intentions.
  • The findings show the father did not provide support, attend medical appointments, see the child, or provide letters, cards or gifts since the child was months old. Although father was aware he could file for custody after stating he would do so, he failed to. Father’s grandmother (paternal great-grandmother) did see the child and sent cards and gifts and he did not seek information about his child through her. It was not until after father was served with the TPR that he began to contact mother.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Abandonment
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