In re M.C., 374 N.C. 882 (2020)

  • Facts: The children were adjudicated neglected due to the domestic violence in the home. There is a history of several Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO), violations of those orders, and father’s arrest for such violations. The parents continued their relationship despite mother stating she would not see father anymore so as to get her children back. DSS filed TPR motions. The TPR was granted, and respondent mother appealed.
  • Under G.S. 7B-1111(a)(1), neglect is a ground to TPR. Neglect includes a parent’s lack of proper care, supervision, or discipline or an environment that is injurious to a child’s welfare. G.S. 7B-101(15).  When a parent and child have been separated for a long period of time, there must be both past neglect and a likelihood of future neglect by the parent.
  • Findings of fact: Assuming arguendo that one of the challenged findings of fact about the parents dinner together is unsupported by the evidence, other unchallenged findings of fact about additional meetings between the parents support the finding that the parents were still together. Although mother testified that she would not return to the children’s father, the trial court was not required to credit her testimony given other testimony that was admitted. Father was in jail pending felony and misdemeanor charges at the time of the TPR hearing. Mother’s testimony and father’s incarceration, given the historical facts of the case, do not support different inferences the trial court should have made about the likelihood of repetition of neglect. The challenged findings are proved by clear and convincing evidence, and the findings as a whole support the conclusion that the neglect ground exists.
Termination of Parental Rights
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