In re O.J.R., 239 N.C. App. 329 (2015)

Reversed and Remanded
  • Petitioner alleged respondent had no contact with child and provided no support and included two grounds for TPR: willful abandonment and dependency.  One finding of fact suggests the court is proceeding on the ground of neglect but does not make an ultimate finding or conclusion of neglect and is therefore insufficient.
  • Neglect is defined by G.S. 7B-101(15), which includes abandonment. Applying the definition of abandonment from In re Adoption of Searle, 82 N.C. App. 273 (1986), “the findings do not support a conclusion that the respondent father manifested ‘a willful determination to forego all parental duties and relinquish all parental claims to the child.’”
  • Citing In re L.O.K. et seq, 174 N.C. App 426 (2005), “the dispositive question is the fitness of the parent to care for the child ‘at the time of the termination proceeding,’” and cannot be based solely on past conditions that no longer exist. The court must consider changes in respondent’s behavior leading up to the hearing and consider those changes in light of the history of neglect and probability of repetition of neglect by that parent.


Termination of Parental Rights
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