January 2016

RALEIGH, NC - The Charleston Group scored a huge victory on behalf of children and the Hoke County, North Carolina Department of Social Services when the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s order terminating the parental rights of a respondent father. The case involved a child whose mother relinquished parental rights to the Hoke County Department of Social Services for subsequent adoption. Thereafter, a paternity test determined the child’s biological father. The Charleston Group litigation team, led by R. Jonathan Charleston, Jose A. Coker, and Keith T. Roberson, argued that while the father took small steps to be in the child’s life, the father failed to provide adequate support for the child. Appellant’s argued that because there was not a prior adjudication of abuse, neglect, or dependency, the Department did not have legal custody of the minor. A lack of custody would preclude the father’s need to support the child. The Court ruled that the Department did indeed have custody of the child based on the mother’s relinquishment of the child. The Court of Appeals, in a unanimous opinion, found that the father failed to provide any meaningful support for the child which is grounds for termination of parental rights and affirmed the trial court decision to terminate the father’s parental rights.