Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Domestic Violence – Future Neglect – Younger Child

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Domestic Violence – Future Neglect – Younger Child

Although the respondent-Father made little to no effort to communicate with his children during his periods of incarceration, he did schedule a visit with them shortly after he was released from one such period. Nevertheless, he missed the visit because he was arrested for arson after setting fire to the respondent-Mother’s home. A reasonable mind could conclude that future incidents of violence between the parents are likely to recur, so the trial court did not err in finding the probability of Father causing an environment physically and emotionally injurious to his children to be high and in concluding grounds existed to terminate Father’s parental rights under G.S. § 7B-1111(a)(1).

We affirm the termination of respondents’ parental rights.

It is true that the trial court terminated Mother’s parental rights to her three older children while leaving her newborn child in her care. However, this case is distinguishable from In re A.W., 280 N.C. App. 162, 867 S.E.2d 25 (2021).

Both respondents in In re A.W. were the biological parents to the youngest child, a petition had already been filed and dismissed regarding the youngest child, and no new reports of any new domestic violence—the sole basis for their oldest child’s removal—had arisen for over one and a half years. Here, the unchallenged, binding findings of fact show that Mother’s youngest child has a different father, and, at the time of the termination of parental rights proceeding (1) Mother was living with her boyfriend with a “history of assaultive behavior”; (2) six months prior to DSS’s petition to terminate parental rights, the court found Mother in violation of a no-contact order with an ex-boyfriend with a history of domestic violence; and (3) seven months prior to DSS’s petition to terminate parental rights, Mother called the police after an incident of domestic violence with a different ex- boyfriend, and two days later, called the police again after the ex-boyfriend showed up at her home and attempted to flood it. These conditions persisted after the filing of the termination of parental rights proceeding.

DSS removed the three older children from respondents’ care due to repeated, consistent incidents of domestic violence as well as substance abuse. DSS had not yet made any allegations regarding Mother’s youngest child and still had the ability to file a petition. The presence of a newborn in Mother’s home, alone, does not preclude the trial court’s conclusion that grounds exist to terminate her parental rights.

Due to the substantial differences between this case and In re A.W., we cannot conclude that the trial court’s termination of parental rights proceedings and resulting orders infringed on Mother’s due process rights as a natural parent.


In re S.Y. (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-156-23, 14 pp.) (Jefferson Griffin, J.) Appealed from Iredell County District Court (Bryan Corbett, J.) Lauren Vaughan for petitioner; Benjamin Kull and Garron Michael for respondents; Michelle Lynch for guardian ad litem. North Carolina Court of Appeals (unpublished)

Top Legal News

See All Top Legal News


See All Commentary