In re K.C., ___ N.C. App. ___, 805 S.E.2d 299 (2016)

Held: 
Reversed

To terminate parental rights on the grounds of neglect by abandonment (which is included in the definition of neglect, G.S. 7B-101(15)), the court must make findings that "the parent has acted in a way that manifests a willful determination to forego all parental claims to the child as of the time of the termination hearing."

The findings do not support the conclusion that the respondent neglected by child by abandonment as respondent's actions do not evince a settled purpose to forego all parental duties and relinquish all parental claims to the child. The findings show respondent paid her court-ordered child support of $1/month (respondent receives disability benefits with no associated child's benefit). Respondent did not attend all of her scheduled visits but did visit nine times between March 2012 and October 2013, spoke with the child three times after 2012, and requested a visit in 2014 that was denied in a decision by the child's therapist. Additionally, the lack of visits between 2014 and the 2015 TPR hearing cannot be taken as evidence of abandonment. The findings show the respondent was denied visitation during that time because the child's therapist determined the visits should be indefinitely suspended such that the lack of contact was not voluntary by respondent. 

Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Neglect
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