An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA03-488


Filed: 3 August 2004

ASHLEY W. and                    Forsyth County    
ANTHONY. J.                    No. 00 J 428 and
                             00 J 430

    Appeal by Respondent from judgment entered 18 April 2002 by Judge Lisa V.F. Menefee in Forsyth County District Court, Juvenile Division. Heard in the Court of Appeals 3 December 2003.

    Victor M. Lefkowitz for petitioner-appellee, Forsyth County Department of Social Services.

    Leslie Carter Rawls for respondent-appellant mother.

    Stuart Teeter as Guardian ad Litem.

    ELMORE, Judge.

    Pamela W. (appellant) is the natural mother of the minor children, Ashley W. and Anthony J., who are the subjects of this appeal. In an underlying neglect action against appellant, Forsyth County Department of Social Services (DSS) was awarded custody of the children on 24 October 2000. Both children were adjudicated to be neglected on 15 December 2000, when respondent, through counsel, acknowledged the allegations of neglect as true. In its adjudication orders, the trial court relieved DSS of responsibility of expending reasonable efforts to reunite appellant with her children. Instead, the trial court specified what appellant must do in order for the trial court to consider reunification. Thetrial court indicated that appellant must: 1) receive a psychological assessment and comply with all treatment recommendations; 2) remain drug-free and comply with all recommendations for substance abuse treatment; 3) attend supervised visits with the children pursuant to a visitation plan; 4) pay child support of $50.00 per month; 5) surrender the children's social security income; 6) work with the children's schools; 7) be available for Anthony's upcoming surgeries; 8) work with and comply with all recommendations of DSS; 9) work with and comply with all recommendations of Vocational Rehabilitation of Goodwill Agency to address employment issues; and 10) receive educational services in reference to family planning from Reynolds Health Center.
    Appellant, by her own testimony, failed to take all of the required actions to be reunited with her children and on 28 November 2001, DSS filed Motions to Terminate Parental Rights (TPR) as to each child. Hearings were conducted in Forsyth County District Court, Juvenile Division on 15, 16, and 18 April 2002. The trial court found that grounds existed to terminate appellant's parental rights and that termination of appellant's parental rights was in the best interest of the children. From the order terminating parental rights, appellant appeals.

    By her first assignment of error, appellant contends that because the TPR order was not reduced to writing, signed, and filedwithin 30 days following the completion of the TPR hearing, the TPR order must be vacated. We disagree.
    Section 7B-1109(e) (2003) of our General Statutes provides that, following the trial court's adjudication of a TPR petition, “[t]he adjudicatory order shall be reduced to writing, signed, and entered no later than 30 days following the completion of the termination of parental rights hearing.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1109 (e) (2003). In the present case, the TPR hearing concluded on 18 April 2002 and the trial court did not enter the written order until 20 November 2002, some 218 days later. While the trial court's delay clearly violated the 30-day provision of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1109(e), we find no authority requiring that the TPR order be vacated as a result. Moreover, we conclude that, on these facts, vacating the TPR order is not an appropriate remedy for the trial court's failure to enter the order within 30 days of the hearing. Our review of the transcript reveals that in her oral adjudication, the trial court stated that neglect had been proven by clear, cogent and convincing evidence as the grounds upon which appellant's parental rights were being terminated. Appellant has failed to demonstrate that she suffered any prejudice by the trial court's delay. Accordingly, respondent's first assignment of error is overruled.
    By her second assignment of error, appellant contends that the evidence presented at the TPR hearing was insufficient to support the termination of parental rights. We disagree.     In the present case, the trial court found as grounds for terminating parental rights that: 1) appellant neglected the children pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(1); 2) appellant willfully left the children in foster care for more than 12 months without showing reasonable progress toward correcting the circumstances which led to their removal pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(2); and 3) appellant willfully failed to provide a reasonable portion of the costs of the children's care while in DSS custody pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(3).
    On appeal, when a trial court's order is reviewed as not being supported by the evidence, this Court looks to see whether there is clear, cogent, and convincing competent evidence to support the findings. If there is such competent evidence, the findings are binding upon the Court on appeal. In re Allen, 58 N.C. App. 322, 293 S.E.2d 607 (1982). In the present case, after a careful review of the record, we conclude that the grounds stated are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence.
    Finally, appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by concluding that the best interests of the children would be served by termination of parental rights. Upon thorough examination of the record, we hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that it was in the best interests of the children to terminate appellant's parental rights. In re Nolen, 117 N.C. App. 693, 700, 453 S.E.2d 220, 225 (1995).
    Affirmed.    Judges BRYANT and CALABRIA concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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