In re J.A.E.W., 375 N.C. 112 (2020)

  • Facts: The child was adjudicated dependent, and at the time, respondent father was incarcerated. After his release, respondent entered into a family case plan with DSS. He did not comply with his case plan and was fired from his job for gross misconduct. Ultimately, he obtained another job. DSS filed a petition to terminate respondent father’s parental rights, which was granted on all 4 alleged grounds and a determination that the TPR was in the child’s best interests. Father appeals and challenges the grounds.
  • Standard of review is whether the findings are supported by clear and convincing evidence and whether the findings support the conclusion of law. A TPR may be based on one or more statutory grounds, and this opinion addresses one ground only.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(3) authorizes a TPR when a parent willfully fails to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of the care of a juvenile in DSS custody if the parent is physically and financially able to do so. The determinative time period is the 6 months preceding the TPR petition. When a parent is employed with some income and has paid nothing, “the trial court did not need to make findings regarding respondent’s own living expenses.” Sl.Op. at 10. “Respondent’s living expenses might be relevant evidence to be taken into account if he had made some child support payments during the applicable time period and the issue was whether the amount he contributed to the cost of Jennifer’s care was reasonable, but here the trial court found that he had income and made no contributions at all.” Id.
Termination of Parental Rights
Failure to Pay Reasonable Cost of Care
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