An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA02-1189


Filed: 6 May 2003

                                         Davidson Count y
                                        No. 01 J 68

    Appeal by respondent Dixie Davis from order entered 16 April 2002 by Judge Wayne L. Michael in Davidson County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 28 April 2003.

    Charles E. Frye III, for Davidson County Department of Social Services, petitioner appellee.

    Hall & Hall, by Susan P. Hall, for Dixie Davis, respondent appellant.

    McCULLOUGH, Judge.

    Appellant Dixie Davis appeals from an order awarding custody of her son, Justin King Davis, to his biological father, Stephen Henry King. Justin was born out of wedlock on 21 May 1993. He was adjudicated as neglected on 23 April 2001 and was placed in the custody of the Davidson County Department of Social Services (DSS). He was placed in the home of his father and stepmother on 20 August 2001. Following a hearing on 8 April 2002, the trial court awarded legal custody of Justin to his father.
    Appellant contends by her sole assignment of error that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding custody of Justin to his father despite evidence showing she had complied with prior orders of the trial court.
    In North Carolina a district court judge is charged with awarding custody of a child “to such person, agency, organization or institution as will best promote the interest and welfare of the child.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.2(a) (2001). The “paramount consideration” or “polar star” in making the custody determination is “the welfare and needs of the child, not the persons seeking his or her custody, and even parental love must yield to the promotion of those higher interests.” In re Peal, 305 N.C. 640, 645-46, 290 S.E.2d 664, 667-68 (1982) (emphasis in original). The findings of fact made by the trial judge in custody matters are binding upon the appellate court if they are supported by competent evidence. Blackley v. Blackley, 285 N.C. 358, 362, 204 S.E.2d 678, 680 (1974). When the findings are supported by competent evidence, the trial court's determination as to the child's best interests will not be disturbed absent a manifest abuse of discretion. West v. Marko, 141 N.C. App. 688, 691, 541 S.E.2d 226, 229 (2001).
    Appellant has not assigned as error the trial court's findings of fact and therefore they are presumed supported by competent evidence. Okwara v. Dillard Dep't Stores, Inc., 136 N.C. App. 587, 591, 525 S.E.2d 481, 484 (2000). In its order the trial court incorporated as findings of fact the reports of the caseworker and of the child's guardian ad litem (GAL). These reports, inter alia, show that appellant had inappropriately disciplined a younger sibling during a visit, that the child had adjusted very well to placement in his father's home, and that the child's attitude and behavior has improved significantly since he was placed in hisfather's home. The child's teacher reported that it takes the child a few days to readjust after visits with his mother. The child reported that, during visits with his mother, he has no schedule and is allowed to stay up past 1:00 a.m. and to watch “R” rated or scary movies. The GAL reported that the child has behavioral problems and that his father has served as an authority figure who has been able to control and discipline the child better than anyone else. The GAL also observed that appellant possesses very poor parenting techniques and becomes overwhelmed quite easily by the child's behavioral problems.
    We conclude the foregoing findings support the trial court's decision to award custody to the child's father. We find no abuse of discretion.
    Judges MARTIN and CALABRIA concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

*** Converted from WordPerfect ***