In re C.M.P., ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 853 (2017)

Held: 
Affirmed
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(1) authorizes the termination of parental rights  upon a finding that the parent has neglected the child as defined by G.S. 7B-101(15). The ground is based upon evidence showing neglect at the time of the termination hearing. When a child has been removed from his/her parent’s custody, the court may consider prior neglect by that parent and any evidence of changed conditions in light of the evidence of prior neglect and the probability of a repetition of neglect if the child were returned to his or her parent. “Neglect exists where the parent has failed in the past to meet the child’s physical and economic needs and it appears that the parent will not, or cannot, correct those inadequate conditions within a reasonable time.” In re J.H.K., 215 N.C. App. 364, 369 (2011). Failure to make progress on a case plan is indicative of a likelihood of future neglect.
  • The findings of fact, based on competent evidence, support the conclusion of law that neglect (including the likelihood of a repetition of neglect) exists. The findings include (1) the children’s removal based on domestic violence, unstable housing and employment, and inappropriate supervision; (2) the children’s adjudication as neglected and dependent; (3) respondent’s case plan requiring parenting education, safe and stable housing and employment, and completion of domestic violence classes resulting in a change in respondent’s behaviors; and (4) respondent’s lack of progress in her case plan as demonstrated by continuing domestic violence incidents, inconsistent attendance at the domestic violence program and ultimate discharge from that program, unstable housing, and although employed, no stable employment.
  • Although the court found respondent acted inconsistently with her constitutional parental rights, this finding is not required to terminate parental rights on the ground of neglect.
  • Concurrence, Murphy, J.: An unchallenged finding of fact is conclusive and binding on appeal. The finding of fact that the children remain in foster care and that there is a high probability of a repetition of neglect due to the respondent’s ongoing struggles is unchallenged and therefore binding on appeal.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Neglect
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