In re M.J.S.M., 257 N.C. App. 633 (2018)

  • The standard of review for a TPR adjudication is whether the findings of fact are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence and whether these findings support the conclusions of law.
  • Parental rights may be terminated on the ground of neglect pursuant to G.S. 7B-1111(a)(1), and neglect is defined at G.S. 7B-101(15). This ground must be based on evidence showing neglect at the time of the TPR hearing. When  a child has been removed from his or her parent’s custody, a prior adjudication of neglect may be considered, but “the trial court must also consider any evidence of changed conditions in light of the evidence of prior neglect and the probability of repetition of neglect” (quoting In re Ballard, 311 N.C. 708, 715 (1984)).
  • Failure to make progress in completing a case plan is indicative of a likelihood of future neglect. Although respondent mother did not completely fail to work her case plan when she obtained appropriate housing, engaged in some domestic violence counseling, and took prescribed medication for her mental health disorders, the evidence, including social worker testimony, showed respondent’s work on the case plan was sporadic and inadequate. Findings that showed mother’s progress was limited and that some progress did not occur until after the TPR petition was filed was sufficient to determine the likelihood of future neglect.
Termination of Parental Rights
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