In re M.C., 381 N.C. 832 (2022)

  • Facts: The juveniles were adjudicated neglected in 2017. In July 2019, DSS filed a TPR motion, which was granted. Father appeals.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(3) authorizes the court to terminate a parent’s rights when the juvenile has been placed in DSS custody or a foster home and the parent has willfully failed to pay for the 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the TPR petition or motion a reasonable cost of the juvenile’s care despite having the physical and financial ability to do so. The cost of care is the cost to DSS, and a parent should pay the portion that is just, fair, and equitable based on the parent’s ability. The “ ‘cost of care’ under N.C.G.S. 7B-1111(a)(3) contemplates the monetary cost of foster care that DSS is required to pay for the care of the children.” 381 N.C. at 837.
  • The determinative 6-month period is Jan. 17 – July 17, 2019. The children were in foster care and the room and board was more than $14K. Father was incarcerated until mid-February and after June. Father was employed while he was not incarcerated and made zero payments although he had the ability to pay more. Father did pay for a birthday party, where he brought toys, shoes and clothing for the juveniles. “[T]his sporadic provision of gifts, food, and clothing does not preclude a finding by the trial court that respondent-father failed to provide a reasonable portion of the cost of care for the children when he made no payments to DSS or the foster parents during the relevant six-month period.” 381 N.C. at 837.
Termination of Parental Rights
Failure to Pay Reasonable Cost of Care
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