In re K.C.T., 375 N.C. 592 (2020)

Reversed and remanded in part
Reversed in Part
  • Facts: After a voluntary kinship placement, petitioners in this TPR obtained a Ch. 50 civil custody order giving them sole legal and physical custody of the juvenile and no visitation with mother. More than 3 years later, petitioners filed this TPR, alleging neglect, failure to make reasonable progress, dependency, and willful abandonment. The TPR was granted on all 4 grounds, and mother appeals.
  • Willful abandonment under G.S. 7B-1111(a)(7) requires the court to focus on the parent’s actions in the 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition (unlike abandonment by neglect). The relevant period is Sept. 12, 2018 to March 12, 2019. Mother took one action during this time period: sending 3 Christmas gifts to her child. The court does not address whether mother’s failure to take any other action was willful. The court’s findings identify multiple possible barriers to mother’s ability to contact and support her child, including her disability, receipt of SSI, lack of driver’s license. The evidence may support the ground, warranting reversal and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
  • Dissent: The majority applies the wrong standard of review. The findings support the conclusion of abandonment when examining the determinative 6-month period.
Termination of Parental Rights
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