In re D.T.N.A., ___ N.C. App. ___, 801 S.E.2d 642 (2016)

Held: 
Remanded
  • To terminate parental rights, the focus of the adjudicatory phase is on “whether the parent’s individual conduct satisfied one or more of the statutory grounds which permit termination.” (citing In re T.D.P. 164, N.C. App. 287, 288, aff’d per curiam, 359 N.C. 405 (2005)).
  • When adjudicating the ground at G.S. 7B-1111(a)(6), the court must find the parent (1) does not have an ability to provide care or supervision to the child and (2) lacks an available alternative child care arrangements for the child.
    • The evidence does not support the court’s findings that the respondent father was incapable of providing proper care and supervision because he failed to comply with his case plan, engaged in poor decision making, was unable to provide for the child’s daily needs, and used drugs. Regarding his drug use, the court’s finding that assumed the respondent’s refusal to take drug tests would have resulted in positive results is not supported by the record, which included judicial notice of the court file that contained permanency planning orders where the court found the respondent had negative drug screens as part of his criminal probation and a court report that stated respondent had tested negative for illegal substances. Even if drug use was proven, the petitioner has the burden of showing that abuse prevents the parent from providing proper care and supervision for the child, and there was no such evidence.
    • The finding that the respondent father did not offer another child care placement was contradicted by evidence from the case file that showed the respondent father recommended a relative for placement, which was approved but not utilized by the department, at the beginning of the underlying dependency case.   
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Dependency
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