In re C.L.H., ___ N.C. ___ (Feb. 5, 2021)

Held: 
Reversed in Part
Vacated and Remanded in Part
There is a dissent
Barringer, J. joined by Newby J. and Berger, J. (on a different ground for TPR)
  • Facts: This is a private TPR where mother is petitioner and father is respondent parent. In 2011, the parties entered into a consent order for child support, where respondent father was required to pay a set amount. In 2018, after father overdosed during a visit with the child, mother obtained a modified Ch. 50 custody order granting her sole physical and legal custody. The TPR was granted on the grounds of neglect, willful failure to pay child support, and dependency. Father appeals, challenging the grounds.
  • Standard of review of an adjudication is whether the findings of fact are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence and whether the findings support the conclusions of law. Conclusions of law are reviewed de novo.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(1): Neglect requires a showing of neglect as defined by G.S. 7B-101(15) at the time of the TPR hearing (current neglect) or if the child has been separated from the parent for a long period of time, a TPR for neglect must be based on a showing of past neglect and a likelihood of future neglect by considering the evidence of changed circumstances given the history of neglect by the parents between the time of the past neglect and the TPR hearing.
  • The finding that the child was not cared for during father’s medical incident related to a drug overdose or other condition was not supported by the evidence and is disregarded. The evidence shows the child went to his grandfather who called for help. Even if supported by the evidence, the finding does not indicate how the incident impacted the juvenile (e.g., harm or substantial risk of harm), other than the absence of care. Assuming arguendo that incident constituted prior neglect, there was no findings showing the likelihood of future neglect. Reversed.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Neglect
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