A common question that arises is concerning the termination of parental rights. When parental rights are terminated, all legal ties between the parent and child are severed. This cannot be done consensually. A court must find grounds for the termination, and that the termination is in the child’s best interests.
In North Carolina, termination of parental rights proceedings are held in juvenile court before a district court judge. There is no jury. The petitioner (the person attempting to terminate the parental rights) must (1) show that there are grounds for the termination, and (2) that it is in the child’s best interests to terminate the parental rights. The petitioner must show by clear and convincing evidence that grounds for the termination exist, and that the termination is in the child’s best interests.
NCGS 7B-1111 sets out several grounds for terminating parental rights in North Carolina. A petitioner needs to prove at least one ground to successfully have a respondent’s parental rights terminated. Some of the ground which justify a termination include abuse, neglect, willful abandonment, the assumption of child custody by one party and the failure to pay child support by the other, a child born out of wedlock with the failure to establish paternity or legitimize the child, the failure to provide proper care and supervision when the child needs specialized care, a conviction of a serious felony such as murder or a sexually related offense.
Even upon the petitioner proving one of the grounds justifying termination, a judge must still find that the termination is in the child’s best interests. To that end, an evidentiary hearing must be held with sworn testimony. A parent cannot simply consent to the termination, even if they want to, fail to file a responsive pleading, or fail to appear at the termination hearing.
Adkins Law is located in Huntersville, North Carolina and primarily serves Mecklenburg County, and the Lake Norman area. If you want to speak with an experienced family law attorney, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.
The termination of parental rights (TPR) severs all legal ties between the parent and the child. To have a TPR a court must find that grounds for the termination exist and that the TPR is in the child’s best interest.
TPR proceedings in North Carolina occur in juvenile court before a district court judge without a jury. The TPR proceeding is divided into two parts: (1) the adjudication stage where the petitioner has to prove the ground for termination, and (2) the disposition stage where the judge determines whether the TPR is in the child's best interest. To obtain a TPR, a petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the grounds exist for termination and that it is in the child's best interest for the termination to occur.
There are ten (10) grounds for terminating parental rights in North Carolina. These are set out under NCGS 7B-1111. A petitioner only needs to prove one ground to successfully win a TPR. Most notably, grounds for terminating parental rights may occur if the parent has neglected or abused the child, abandoned the child, failed to legitimate the child, or incapable of providing proper care and support for the child. For a more intimate review of the grounds, please see NCGS 7B-1111.
As stated above, even if the petitioner proves one of the grounds justifying termination, the judge must still find that TPR is in the child's best interest. Thus, a hearing with sworn testimony is required for all TPRs. A parent cannot simply consent to a TPR, even if they do not file an answer or appear at the hearing.
Adkins Law is located in Huntersville, NC and serves Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Iredell County, Gaston County, Cabarrus County, and the Lake Norman area. Contact Adkins Law to schedule a consultation with a family lawyer in Huntersville NC.