In re N.X.A., ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 244 (2017)

Held: 
No Error
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(3) allows for parental rights to be terminated when the juvenile has been placed in DSS custody or a foster home and the parent for a continuous period of 6 months next preceding the filing of the TPR petition has willfully failed for such period to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of the juvenile’s care although financially and physically able to do so. This ground requires that the court make specific findings that a parent was able to pay some amount greater than the amount the parent paid during the relevant time period, but the court is not required to make a finding as to the specific amount of support that would have constituted a “reasonable portion” of the cost of care under the circumstances.
  • The findings support the court’s conclusion that the ground existed as they make clear the mother had an ability to pay some amount greater than zero, which is what she paid. The findings included mother’s annual income of $10,000 - $13,000, her declaring the children as dependents for tax purposes resulting in a significant tax refund, and her failure to pay any support. 
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Failure to Pay Reasonable Cost of Care
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