Parents have both legal rights and responsibilities in North Carolina. When parental rights are terminated, a person can lose the rights given to parents concerning their child. This is a serious matter, and will only be granted in situations defined in North Carolina’s statutes.

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

North Carolina law lays out several circumstances under which a termination of parental rights may be granted:

  • The parent abused or neglected the child.
  • A noncustodial parent failed to pay child support without justification for one year or more.
  • A father of a child born out of wedlock failed to legitimate the child.
  • The parent is incapable of providing proper care for the child.
  • The parent willfully abandoned the child.
  • Circumstances meet other conditions set out by North Carolina law.

A termination of parental rights will cut off a parent’s right to seek custody or visitation of their child. It will also cut off their responsibility for paying child support.

Who Can Bring a Termination of Parental Rights Case

Only certain parties can bring a termination of parental rights petition before the court. The child’s parent can file a petition against the other parent. The child’s guardian, presumptive adoptive parent, or a social services agency can also file the petition.

A person with whom the child has lived for two consecutive years or more can also file the petition. This could satisfy the requirement in the case of stepparent adoption.

A person can attempt to terminate their own parental rights. However, if a stepparent wants to adopt a child, the child’s other parent can consent to the adoption and have their own parental rights terminated.

Filing a Motion To Terminate Child Support

North Carolina law requires that child support be paid until the child reaches the age of 18 years old. If either parent’s financial situation changes, the parent can request a revision of the child support order. A parent may even be able to terminate child support early in some cases through a motion to terminate child support.

There are a variety of situations in which you may be able to approach the court to file a motion to terminate your child support obligation even before your child has reached 18, including:

  • Your child has graduated or dropped out of high school
  • Your child does not live with the parent to whom you pay child support.
  • Your child was legally emancipated before they turned 18.
  • Your child entered a marriage before they turned 18.
  • Your child enlisted in the military and is not a full-time student.
  • Your child lives with you most of the time.
  • You and your child’s other parent have reconciled and are now living together.
  • You discover the child isn’t your biological child.
  • The custodial parent agrees to end child support payments.

In these scenarios, it can be argued that child support should no longer be necessary. For a parent dealing with a similar scenario or who believes they have another legitimate reason to end their child support obligation, it may be wise to enlist the help of a knowledgeable family lawyer. Consider contacting King Law in North Carolina to learn more about ending child support payments.

How Do I File a Motion to Terminate Child Support?

Once you have a child support attorney, you can petition the appropriate court to stop your child support payments. You’ll have to go to court and prove why the court should cancel your responsibility.

For example, if your child has graduated from high school, you can present a copy of their diploma to the court. A diploma can serve as evidence that your circumstances have changed substantially. Because of this change, you are no longer paying support in accordance with the law, meeting the requirement for termination.

Consult with your attorney to determine the best method for proving your case, including what paperwork or testimony may be required to prove these additional facts. The court will review the facts of the case, your arguments, and the other parent’s arguments3 and compare your circumstances to what the law allows before making a decision.

Best Interests of the Child

A court will only grant a termination of parental rights if it is in the child’s best interests. The court will look at many factors to make this decision, including the child’s age, their relationship with the parent, and the relationship with the proposed adoptive parent or guardian.

Before filing a petition to terminate parental rights, consult with a family law attorney. You should be sure you know the legal significance of this action and have an attorney evaluate your case to see if there are sufficient grounds to bring the case before the court.

Our Family Lawyers Are Here To Help

King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day.  We serve the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina. Call 888-748-KING (5464) today or complete our contact form for a consultation with one of our dedicated family law attorneys.

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Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina
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