In re S.R., 283 N.C. App. 149 (2022)

  • Facts: This is a private TPR where mother petitioned to terminate father’s parental rights on the grounds of neglect, failure to pay child support, and willful abandonment. Findings addressed mother’s agenda of setting father up to not pay child support so that the ground to TPR was available. The TPR was denied and petitioner appeals arguing that some findings were not supported by clear and convincing evidence and the conclusion that no grounds existed was not supported by the findings.
  • A finding that is supported by clear and convincing evidence is conclusive even if there is other evidence in the record that would support a contrary finding. The trial court considers the evidence and determines its credibility and weight. When there is conflicting evidence, the appellate court will not assign weight or credibility to that evidence. Findings that are not supported by clear and convincing evidence are disregarded.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(4) authorizes a TPR based on a parent’s willful failure to pay child support for one year or more immediately preceding the TPR petition when a parent has been awarded custody of the child and a support order is in place. The TPR order does not include findings that there was a child support order requiring father to pay child support but instead finds father paid child support until mother elected to no longer have an income garnishment for father’s wages to pay child support. There was evidence to show there was a child support order, but “the trial court acted within its discretion in electing to not terminate [father’s] parental rights” such that any error of not including a finding about the child support order was harmless. There was no error in concluding the grounds of neglect and abandonment were not proved.
Termination of Parental Rights
Fail to Pay Child Support
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