An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA02-1241

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS

Filed: 1 April 2003

IN RE:                            Cumberland County
GILEAH MASON,                        No. 01 J 369
A Juvenile

    

    Appeal by respondent from order entered 4 April 2002, nunc pro tunc 18 February 2002, by Judge John W. Dickson in Cumberland County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 24 March 2003.

    John F. Campbell for petitioner-appellee, Cumberland County Department of Social Services.

    Annick Lenoir-Peek for respondent-appellant.

    ELMORE, Judge.

    Gileah Mason was born on 20 October 1999. Respondent is the child's father. Gileah was placed in the custody of the Cumberland County Department of Social Services (DSS) on 25 August 2000 and adjudicated a dependent juvenile on 21 November 2000.
    On 3 July 2001, a petition to terminate parental rights was filed by DSS alleging that respondent had neglected Gileah within the meaning of G.S. 7B-101(15), and had failed to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of child care for her in the six months preceding the filing of the petition. On 28 December 2001, nunc pro tunc 14 November 2001, the trial court determined that grounds existed to terminate respondent's parental rights. The trial courtbased its determination on its finding that respondent had failed to complete a parenting assessment, to complete a RESOLVE Program, and to follow through with all individual psychological evaluations. Additionally, the trial court found that respondent had failed to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of care for Gileah although physically and financially able to do so. Respondent stipulated that the allegations in the petition to terminate his parental rights were true and that grounds existed for the termination of his parental rights. The court withheld making a best interest determination regarding respondent and continued disposition for ninety days.
    On 4 April 2002, nunc pro tunc 18 February 2002, the trial court concluded that it was in the best interests of the child that respondent's parental rights be terminated. The trial court found that respondent's efforts were “very last minute” and it would be unfair to the minor child for her to continue in the custody of DSS. Accordingly, respondent's parental rights were terminated. Respondent appeals.
    Respondent argues that the trial court erred by concluding it was in Gileah's best interests to terminate his parental rights. Respondent contends that although grounds existed to terminate his parental rights at the 14 November 2001 hearing, conditions had changed by 18 February 2002. Respondent contends that he had substantially complied with the demands presented to him in order to regain custody of Gileah, and thus argues that the evidence does not support a finding that it was in Gileah's best interests toterminate his parental rights. Respondent additionally argues the trial court erred by finding that his efforts to regain custody were “very last minute” and that he had ample time to complete the items necessary to show his ability to care for the minor child.
    After careful review of the record, briefs and contentions of the parties, we affirm. Section 7B-1111 of the General Statutes sets out the statutory grounds for terminating parental rights. A finding of any one of the separately enumerated grounds is sufficient to support a termination. In re Taylor, 97 N.C. App. 57, 64, 387 S.E.2d 230, 233-34 (1990). “[T]he party petitioning for the termination must show by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that grounds authorizing the termination of parental rights exist.” In re Young, 346 N.C. 244, 247, 485 S.E.2d 612, 614 (1997); see also N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(b) (2001).
    In the case sub judice, the trial court concluded that respondent had neglected Gileah within the meaning of G.S. 7B- 101(15). The trial court based its conclusion and findings on evidence that respondent had failed to complete a parenting assessment, failed to complete a RESOLVE Program, and did not follow through on recommendations from his psychological evaluation. The trial court also found that respondent had failed to pay any child support. Respondent did not contest the allegations, and stipulated that grounds existed at the 14 November 2001 hearing to support termination of his parental rights. Accordingly, we conclude that there was clear, cogent and convincing evidence to support the trial court's findings thatrespondent had neglected Gileah and failed to pay any child support although financially and physically able to do so.
    Once the trial court has found that grounds exist to terminate parental rights, “the court shall issue an order terminating the parental rights of such parent with respect to the juvenile unless the court shall further determine that the best interests of the juvenile require that the parental rights of the parent not be terminated.” N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1110(a) (2001). The trial court's decision to terminate parental rights at the disposition stage is discretionary. In re Montgomery, 311 N.C. 101, 110, 316 S.E.2d 246, 252 (1984).
    Here, the trial court concluded that it was in the best interests of the child that respondent's parental rights be terminated. The trial court found that Gileah had been in the custody and control of DSS for a substantial period of time, and that it was unfair to her for these conditions to continue. We note that at the time of the hearing, Gileah was just over two years old and had spent eighteen months of her life in the custody of her foster parents, who sought to adopt her. Furthermore, the trial court found that respondent's efforts “were at the very last minute.” The trial court based this finding on the fact that respondent's sole child support payment was made just four days prior to the hearing. Thus, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination was in the child's best interests. Accordingly, the order terminating respondent's parental rights is affirmed.
    Affirmed.
    Judges HUNTER and BRYANT concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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