In re G.B., ___ N.C. ___ (April 16, 2021)

Held: 
Affirmed
There is a dissent
Earls, J.
  • Facts: In 2017, the juveniles were adjudicated neglected and one juvenile was also adjudicated abused. The circumstances for the children involved exposure to domestic violence, substance use, poor supervision, failure to attend to medical needs, inappropriate discipline, and housing instability. Respondent father was incarcerated. Both parents entered into case plans with DSS. In 2019, DSS filed motions to terminate both parents’ rights. The court granted both motions, and the parents appealed.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) authorizes a TPR on the ground of willfully leaving the juvenile in foster care for 12 or more months and failing to make reasonable progress under the circumstances to correct the conditions that led to the juvenile’s removal.
  • The court properly considered father’s ability to complete his case plan while incarcerated as well as his actions and decisions while incarcerated when determining whether he failed to make reasonable progress under the circumstances. The court’s determination that father failed to make reasonable progress is supported by the findings. Initially father made progress on his case plan by attending NA and having negative drug screens. Father then engaged in behaviors that impacted his ability to complete his case plan. He had multiple infractions that resulted in his transfer to various different correctional facilities and significantly limited his access to services as well as delayed his release date. Father created his own barriers by his choices to engaged in prohibited activities and created the barriers he is now complaining about.
  • Dissent: North Carolina law does not authorize a TPR based on incarceration.
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Willfully Leaving Child in Foster Care or Other Placement
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