In re J.E.E.R., 2021-NCSC-74

  • Facts: The juvenile was adjudicated neglected. Father, who resided in New York, was contacted and agreed to participate in genetic marker testing (paternity was adjudicated), a case plan (which he failed to enter into), and an ICPC home study (both home studies were denied). Father was not engaged in services, and DSS ultimately filed a TPR petition, which was granted. Father appeals. This appeal focuses on the ground of failing to pay the reasonable cost of care.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(3) authorizes a TPR when a juvenile is in the custody of a DSS and the parent has willfully failed to pay a reasonable cost of the child’s care when financially and physically able to do so, for six consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition. The cost of care is the amount DSS pays to care for the child, e.g., foster care. “A parent is required to pay that portion of the cost of foster care for the child that is fair, just and equitable based upon the parent’s ability or means to pay. . . . The requirement applies irrespective of the parent’s wealth or poverty.” Sl.Op. ¶14.
  • Clear, cogent, and convincing evidence shows father was continuously employed during the relevant time period, making $200 to $800/week, the cost of foster care was $6,158.46, and father paid zero despite having an ability to do so.
Termination of Parental Rights
Failure to Pay Reasonable Cost of Care
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