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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Failure to Establish Paternity

In re C.D. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-16-0079, 8 pp.) (Ann Marie Calabria, J.) Appealed from Catawba County District Court. (J. Gary Dellinger, J.) N.C. App. Unpub. Click here for the full text of the opinion.

Holding: An incarcerated father, whose paternity was eventually established by genetic testing, loses his parental rights because he failed to legitimate the child before DSS petitioned to terminate his parental rights.

We affirm the termination of respondent’s parental rights.

At the time of the child’s birth, respondent was incarcerated, and the mother did not list a father on the child’s birth certificate.

Respondent and the mother have an older child, and respondent’s rights the older child have been terminated.

Pursuant to G.S. § 7B-1111(a)(5), respondent was required to have established his paternity prior to the filing of the original petition seeking termination of his parental rights.

The petitioner Department of Social Services offered clear, cogent and convincing evidence that respondent had not legitimated the younger child (Christina) prior to the filing of the petition to terminate his parental rights on Jan. 21, 2010. At the hearing, DSS offered as an exhibit a certified statement by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services attesting that no affidavit of paternity had been filed with respect to Christina.

In addition, petitioner presented the testimony of Ms. Bland-Boughman, the social worker assigned to Christina’s case since Christina’s mother had relinquished Christina to DSS. Bland-Boughman testified that although DSS had custody of Christina since the day she was born, Bland-Boughman had not received any legal notices of any kind pertaining to Christina, including any judicial notices, petitions or affidavits of paternity filed with respect to the child.

Bland-Boughman also testified that respondent had never married Christina’s mother. Respondent offered no evidence to contradict Bland-Boughman’s testimony.

Clear, cogent and convincing evidence supported the trial court’s finding of fact that respondent failed to provide substantial support and care to Christina because during the time respondent-father was incarcerated, he failed to send any portion of the $15-per-week wages he earned to support the child, and he also failed to provide any other type of care for Christina.

The evidence presented in the instant case fully supports the trial court’s findings that respondent failed to meet any of the requirements of G.S. § 7B-1111(a)(5) for a putative father to maintain his parental rights. The only evidence before the trial court on this ground was the uncontradicted evidence that respondent did not perform any of the statutorily required actions.


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