An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA04-1536

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS

Filed: 17 January 2006

IN RE:
        A.G.,
        a minor child
and
        J.G.,
        a minor child

                            Lee County
                            Nos. 03-J-23; 03-J-24

    Appeal by respondents mother and father from an order entered 9 June 2004 by Judge George R. Murphy in Lee County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 18 August 2005.

    Richard Croutharmel, for respondent-appellant mother.

    Terry W. Alford, for respondent-appellant father.

    Beverly D. Basden, P.C., by Beverly D. Basden, for Lee County Department of Social Services, petitioner-appellees.


    Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, by Christopher M. Kindel, for Guardian ad Litem Maite Lamberri-Wilson, petitioner- appellees.

    JACKSON, Judge.

    Respondent mother is the parent of two minor children, A.G. and J.G. Respondent father is the parent of A.G. On 26 March 2003, the Lee County Department of Social Services (“DSS”) received a report that A.G. and J.G.'s home was unsanitary and that the children came to school dirty with unclean clothes. At the time of the report, A.G. was six years old and J.G. was eleven years old. DSS investigated the report on 28 March 2003 and found thechildren's home to be filthy, with cockroaches crawling throughout the kitchen, and dirty dishes, trash, and dirty clothes throughout the house. DSS informed respondents that the home needed to be cleaned up within three days. The family failed to comply with the recommendations, and DSS remained involved with the family in attempts to remedy the living conditions. While visiting the home on 8 April 2003, a DSS social worker and a Sanford Building Inspector identified several fire hazards in the home and found a thick layer of raw sewage in the backyard. Respondent mother corrected the fire hazards, but failed to correct the problem leading to the raw sewage leakage.
    On 11 April 2003, DSS substantiated the case for neglect for injurious environment. DSS worked with respondents throughout April 2003, and respondents placed the children in relatives' homes while attempting to remedy the situation. At one point respondent mother and her children went to a shelter, but later were asked to leave due to respondent mother's failing to follow the rules. While working with the family, DSS learned that respondent mother previously had been receiving daily treatments of Methadone for a prior addiction to painkillers. DSS ordered respondent mother to take a drug test, which she initially refused to do. On 29 April 2003, a plumber was sent to respondents' home to inspect its condition, and he determined the conditions of the backyard were unsafe for the workers to perform necessary work. At this point there was no electricity or water in the home. Respondent mother was unable to obtain subsidized housing due to a prior felonyconviction, and respondent father submitted an application for subsidized housing, and awaited a determination.
    On 30 April 2003, A.G. and J.G. were removed from respondents' care and placed in a foster home in the custody of DSS. The children were adjudicated as neglected as to all parents on 9 September 2003.   (See footnote 1)  At the adjudication, the court found that both parents had been asked to complete parenting classes, provide safe and affordable housing, and that respondent mother had been asked to remain drug free and submit to random drug testing. Both respondents failed to comply with the plan, and respondent mother tested positive for prescription drugs for which she was unable to produce a prescription on 15 September 2003 .
    At a review hearing on 23 September 2003, the court admitted into evidence reports from DSS and the children's guardian ad litem, and found that the parents had made no reasonable efforts to comply with the plan. The court found that it would be in the children's best interests for DSS to be relieved of reunification efforts with respect to respondents. At a 21 October 2003 permanency planning hearing, the court ordered the permanent plan for the children to be adoption.
    Motions to terminate respondents' parental rights as to both children were filed on 12 December 2003. The trial court found grounds to terminate respondent mother's parental rights on thebasis of neglect, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(1), and dependency, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(6). The trial court found grounds to terminate respondent father's parental rights on the basis of failure to pay child support, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(3), failure to provide substantial financial support or consistent care, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(5d), and dependency, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(6). The trial court determined it was in the best interests of the minor children to terminate respondents' parental rights. The order terminating both respondents' parental rights was filed on 9 June 2004, following four days of hearings. From this order, respondents appeal.
    Respondent mother first asserts the trial court erred in failing to appoint a guardian ad litem for her after petitioner DSS alleged dependency in its termination of parental rights petition. She argues that by accepting into evidence the testimony and evidence regarding her history of drug use and opinions regarding the condition of her home, the trial court should have recognized that she had a mental illness and thus, sua sponte, appointed a guardian ad litem to represent her.
    Respondent mother specifically argues that evidence presented regarding her drug abuse, and the court's findings of fact, indicate that the court and DSS felt that her inability to care for her children primarily was a result of her drug abuse. She alsoargues that the court should have recognized that her testimony itself was a result of mental illness. Respondent mother argues that any individual who cannot keep a house clean enough to live in, and who feels that a house with roaches, trash, holes in the floor, and raw sewage in the yard is not as dirty as DSS would have the court believe, obviously must have some sort of mental illness.
    In North Carolina, a trial court may terminate a parent's parental rights if
        the parent is incapable of providing for the proper care and supervision of the juvenile, such that the juvenile is a dependent juvenile . . . and that there is a reasonable probability that such incapability will continue for the foreseeable future. Incapability . . . may be the result of substance abuse, mental retardation, mental illness, organic brain syndrome, or any other cause or condition that renders the parent unable or unavailable to parent the juvenile and the parent lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(6) (2004). Our statutes also provide that a parent shall have a guardian ad litem appointed for them
        [w]here it is alleged that a parent's rights should be terminated pursuant to [North Carolina General Statutes, section] 7B-1111(6), and the incapability to provide proper care and supervision pursuant to that provision is the result of substance abuse, . . . mental illness, . . . or another similar cause or condition.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1101(1) (2004) (emphasis added). In In re T.W., this court held that in determining when a guardian ad litem should be appointed for a parent, “'it is the use of the term “incapable” which triggers the requirement of [North Carolina General Statutes, section] 7B-1101 for the appointment of aguardian ad litem.'” In re T.W., __ N.C. App. __, __, 617 S.E.2d 702, 705-06 (2005) (quoting In re B.M., 168 N.C. App. 350, 357, 607 S.E.2d 698, 703 (2005)). In a case in which a guardian ad litem should have been appointed, a trial court's failure to appoint one “'requires reversal of the order terminating parental rights, remand for appointment of a guardian ad litem, and a new trial.'” Id. at __, 617 S.E.2d at 706 (quoting In re B.M., 168 N.C. App. at 357, 607 S.E.2d at 702).
    We previously have held that a guardian ad litem is required to be appointed for a parent only when it is alleged in the petition that the termination is based upon dependency that is the result of substance abuse, mental retardation, mental illness, organic brain syndrome, or other similar cause or condition. In re J.D., 164 N.C. App. 176, 605 S.E.2d 643, disc. review denied, 358 N.C. 732, 601 S.E.2d 531 (2004); In re Estes, 157 N.C. App. 513, 579 S.E.2d 496, disc. review denied, 357 N.C. 459, 585 S.E.2d 390 (2003). We also have held that even though a petition or a termination order may not specifically reference North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1101(6), when the trial court allows evidence to be presented regarding the parent's mental illness and substance abuse, and the adverse effect on the parent's ability to care for their children, the parent may be entitled to have a guardian ad litem appointed. In re T.W., __ N.C. App. at __, 617 S.E.2d at 706; In re B.M., 168 N.C. App. at 358-59, 607 S.E.2d at 704.    In the instant case, DSS's motions for termination of the parental rights stated that
        The parents are incapable of providing for the proper care and supervision of the minor [children], such that the [children are] dependent juvenile[s] within the meaning of G.S. 7B-101, and that there is a reasonable probability that such incapacity will continue for the foreseeable future. Neither parent has established a residence for the minor [children]. Neither parent has maintained the same residence for a significant period of time since the removal of the [children] from the home.

DSS's motions made no statement that respondent mother's parental rights should be terminated based on her drug history or present mental condition, or that she was incapable of caring for her children as a result of drug abuse or mental illness. Further, at no point during the hearings did respondent mother request a guardian ad litem or present evidence showing that she had any type of mental illness. Cf. In re T.W., __ N.C. App. at __, 617 S.E.2d at 706 (respondent specifically petitioned the trial court for appointment of guardian ad litem based upon her mental illness, and the trial court erred in not appointing one when it considered her mental illness as a factor in deciding to terminate her parental rights).
    In the instant case, the motion to terminate parental rights neither alleged respondent mother was incapable of caring for her minor children due to mental illness or substance abuse, nor cited North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(6). With respect to respondent mother, the motion alleged grounds for termination based upon neglect, failure to pay a portion of thecost of care for the children, and dependency. However, none of the allegations in the motion tended to show that respondent was incapable of providing care for the children based on mental illness or substance abuse. While the trial court did allow evidence to be presented regarding the mother's drug history, we do not find that the evidence of her drug history and the children's neglect or dependency “were so intertwined at times as to make separation of the two virtually, if not, impossible.” In re J.D., 164 N.C. App. at 182, 605 S.E.2d at 646. Therefore, the trial court did not err by failing to appoint a guardian ad litem for respondent for the hearing associated with the motion to terminate parental rights. See, In re O.C., __ N.C. App. __, 615 S.E.2d 391, disc. review denied, __ N.C.__, __ S.E.2d __ (2005).
    Because the petition to terminate respondent mother's parental rights did not allege that the children were dependent due to her inability to care for the children as a result of substance abuse, mental illness, or some other debilitating condition, we hold the trial court was not required to appoint a guardian ad litem. See, id. at __, 615 S.E.2d at 394.
    Respondents next argue the trial court committed reversible error by taking the children's testimony in-chambers and by denying respondent father an opportunity to question the children. The trial court questioned the children in-chambers, and permitted respondents' attorneys to be present but not to question the children. Following the questioning in-chambers, the trial courtbriefly summarized for the record the substance of the children's testimony, and stated
        COURT:    Let the record reflect that the Court did not allow any counsel, although they all were present, to ask any questions. The Court was the only one who asked questions of the children.

Counsel for respondents requested the opportunity to ask questions of the children but were prohibited from doing so and did not receive answers to the questions they would have posed had they been afforded the opportunity. There is no indication that counsel for respondents proposed specific questions for the children to the Court prior to the in camera questioning.
    Our courts consistently have held that in a civil action, such as a termination of parental rights hearing, a party has a “'right to be present, to testify, and to confront witnesses subject to “due limitations.”'” In re D.R., __ N.C. App. __, __, 616 S.E.2d 300, 303 (2005) (quoting In re Faircloth, 153 N.C. App. 565, 573, 571 S.E.2d 65, 71 (2002)). Cases involving children often involve particularly sensitive issues, and our courts have recognized that
        in many instances it may be helpful for the court to talk to the child whose welfare is so vitally affected by the decision, yet the tradition of our courts is that their hearings shall be open. . . .

            Without doubt the court may question a child in open court in a custody proceeding but it can do so privately only by consent of the parties.
Raper v. Berrier, 246 N.C. 193, 195, 97 S.E.2d 782, 784 (1957) (emphasis added); see Cox v. Cox, 133 N.C. App. 221, 227, 515S.E.2d 61, 66 (1999). The presence of parties' counsel during an in-chambers interview of a child “eliminates any prejudice to [the parties] that might have occurred had [the parties'] attorneys not been present in the trial judge's chambers.” Cox, 133 N.C. App. at 227, 515 S.E.2d at 66. “The attorneys' presence adequately protects the parties' rights and interests.” Id.
    In order for respondents to prevail on this issue on appeal, they “must not only show error, but also that the error is material and prejudicial, amounting to a denial of a substantial right and that a different result would have likely ensued.” Cook v. Southern Bonded, Inc., 82 N.C. App. 277, 281, 346 S.E.2d 168, 171 (1986) (citing Sisson v. Royster, 228 N.C. 298, 301, 45 S.E.2d 351, 354 (1947)); see also In re Parker, 90 N.C. App. 423, 432, 368 S.E.2d 879, 885 (1988) (applying principle in juvenile case). In the instant case, respondents have failed to demonstrate that they were prejudiced in any manner by the trial court's refusal to permit their attorneys to question the children.
    Respondents liken their case to that in Cook v. Cook, 5 N.C. App. 652, 169 S.E.2d 29 (1969), in which the trial court, over the parties' objection, examined the children in-chambers with the parties' attorneys present. This Court held that the trial court erred in hearing the children's testimony in camera over the parties' objection. This Court explained that “'[w]ithout doubt the court may question a child in open court in a custody proceeding but it can do so privately only by consent of theparties.'” Id. at 654, 169 S.E.2d at 31 (quoting Raper, 246 N.C. at 195, 97 S.E.2d at 784).
    The present case is distinguishable from Cook, in that neither party objected to the trial court's questioning of the children in camera. Furthermore, counsel for both parties were present during the in camera questioning, thus distinguishing this case from Raper, 246 N.C. 193, 97 S.E.2d 784 (holding the trial court erred because counsel was not present when it questioned the children in- chambers). Respondents merely objected to the trial court's refusal to allow the attorneys to question the children during the in camera hearing. This issue was not raised or addressed in Cook, thus Cook is not controlling with respect to the instant case.
    Based on the facts of the case before us, we hold the reasoning applied in Cox, to be dispositive. In Cox, counsel objected to the trial court's decision to interview the children in-chambers and specifically suggested that the judge question the children in the courtroom, but close court for their testimony. Id. at 227, 515 S.E.2d at 66. The trial court denied the request, but allowed both parties' attorneys to be present in-chambers for the questioning. Id. On appeal, we held that even though the trial court erred in interviewing the children in camera over the parties' objection, such error did not constitute reversible error per se. Id. at 227, 515 S.E.2d at 66. Rather, we required the appellant to demonstrate how she was prejudiced as a result of the in camera questioning. Id. We held that the presence of the parties' attorneys during the in camera questioning “eliminate[d]any prejudice to defendant that might have occurred had defendant's attorneys not been present in the trial judge's chambers[,]” and thus the parties' rights and interests were adequately protected. Id.
    We recognize that Cox is distinguishable from the instant case in that the attorneys in Cox were not seeking to question the children in-chambers, but rather to have the judge question them in open court. However, the holding in Cox ultimately relies on defense counsel's failure to demonstrate how the client was prejudiced as a result of the in camera questioning. See id. In the case sub judice, respondents do not attempt to show how they were prejudiced as a result of the trial court's refusal to allow the attorneys to question the children or how the outcome would have been different had they been allowed to do so. Thus, as respondents have failed to demonstrate prejudice, we hold respondents' argument on this issue to be without merit.
    Respondent mother next argues the trial court lacked sufficient evidence and findings of fact to support the termination of her parental rights based upon neglect and dependency. In addition, both respondents argue that the trial court's conclusions of law were not supported by competent evidence or findings of fact, and thus the trial court abused its discretion in terminating their parental rights.
    A termination of parental rights proceeding consists of two stages: the adjudicatory stage and the dispositional stage. In re Blackburn, 142 N.C. App. 607, 610, 543 S.E.2d 906, 908 (2001). During the adjudicatory stage, the petitioner (DSS in this case) has the burden of proving by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that a statutory ground for termination exists. Id. North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111 (2004) sets forth the grounds for termination of parental rights. “This Court reviews the adjudicatory phase to determine whether the trial court's findings of fact are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence, and, if so, whether these findings in turn support the trial court's conclusions of law.” In re Mills, 152 N.C. App. 1, 6, 567 S.E.2d 166, 169 (2002). Findings of fact which are supported by competent evidence are binding on appeal, even where contradictory evidence may exist. Id.
    If the trial court finds that one or more grounds for termination exists, the process then moves to the disposition stage in which the trial court must determine whether it is in the best interests of the child to terminate the parental rights. In re Pierce, 356 N.C. 68, 75, 565 S.E.2d 81, 86 (2002). “The standard for review in termination of parental rights cases is whether the court's 'findings of fact are based upon clear, cogent and convincing evidence' and whether the 'findings support the conclusions of law.'” In re Huff, 140 N.C. App. 288, 291, 536 S.E.2d 838, 840 (2000) (quoting In re Allred, 122 N.C. App. 561, 565, 471 S.E.2d 84, 86 (1996)), disc. review denied, 353 N.C. 374, 547 S.E.2d 9 (2001).
    North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111 provides that:        (a) The court may terminate the parental rights upon a finding of one or more of the following:

        (1)    The parent has abused or neglected the juvenile. The juvenile shall be deemed to be abused or neglected if the court finds the juvenile to be an abused juvenile within the meaning of G.S. 7B-101 or a neglected juvenile within the meaning of G.S. 7B-101.

        . . . .

        (3)    The juvenile has been placed in the custody of a county department of social services, a licensed child-placing agency, a child-caring institution, or a foster home, and the parent, for a continuous period of six months next preceding the filing of the petition or motion, has willfully failed for such period to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of care for the juvenile although physically and financially able to do so.

        . . . .

        (5)    The father of a juvenile born out of wedlock has not, prior to the filing of a petition or motion to terminate parental rights:

            . . . .

            d.    Provided substantial financial support or consistent care with respect to the juvenile and mother.

        (6)    That the parent is incapable of providing for the proper care and supervision of the juvenile, such that the juvenile is a dependent juvenile within the meaning of G.S. 7B-101, and that there is a reasonable probability that such incapability will continue for the foreseeable future. Incapability under this subdivision may be the result of substance abuse, mental retardation, mental illness, organic brain syndrome, or any other cause or condition thatrenders the parent unable or unavailable to parent the juvenile and the parent lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111 (2004). A “neglected juvenile,” as set forth in North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(1), is defined as
            A juvenile who does not receive proper care, supervision, or discipline from the juvenile's parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker; or who has been abandoned; or who is not provided necessary medical care; or who is not provided necessary remedial care; or who lives in an environment injurious to the juvenile's welfare; or who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-101(15) (2004). “A finding of neglect sufficient to terminate parental rights must be based on evidence showing neglect at the time of the termination proceeding.” In re Young, 346 N.C. 244, 248, 485 S.E.2d 612, 615 (1997) (citation omitted).
    Once a petitioner has met its burden of proving that at least one of the statutory grounds to terminate parental rights exists, the trial court then moves to the disposition phase and must consider whether termination is in the best interests of the child. In re Blackburn, 142 N.C. App. at 610, 543 S.E.2d at 908. A court's finding of one statutory ground for termination, if supported by competent evidence, will support an order for termination of parental rights. In re Nolen, 117 N.C. App. 693, 700, 453 S.E.2d 220, 225 (1995). The trial court's decision toterminate parental rights is reviewed by an abuse of discretion standard. In re Brim, 139 N.C. App. 733, 745, 535 S.E.2d 367, 374 (2000).
    In the instant case, the trial court made numerous findings of fact concerning respondents' failure to comply with DSS' plans, failure to provide a safe and stable home, and failure to provide financially for their children. The court made its findings of fact after hearing testimony from respondents, DSS workers, the father of one of respondent mother's other children, the children's teachers, the foster parents, respondent father's employer, and the children's guardian ad litem. The court also admitted into evidence respondents' case plans, various photographs of the children, respondent father's acknowledgment of paternity, and the guardian ad litem's report which had been prepared for the termination hearing. Based upon this evidence, the court made numerous findings of fact, including:
        23.    Both Mr. Turner and Kathryn [G] were asked by Lee County Department of Social Services to find suitable housing for the children and take parenting classes. Because of the admission of prescription drug abuse, Ms. [G] was required to take a drug test. Although she did not at first comply, she did finally take the test which came back positive. She refused to take any additional tests.

        . . . .

        36.    Neither Ms. [G] nor Mr. Turner has established any residence on their own since the children were removed in April 2003. Mr. Turner has lived with various relatives and at this time is living in a truck beside of James' Fish House. Mr. Turner has applied for subsidized housingbut has not yet received an apartment. Each time he appeared in court for the last several sessions he has indicated that he would be moving in immediately, but never has been able to move in to a home. . . .

        37.    Ms. [G] never obtained any stable residence until January 30, 2004 when she married Tommy Roy [B]. He lives in a trailer that is paid for on family land. Ms. [G] testified that he has a life estate in the land where the trailer is placed. This home only has two bedrooms and Ms. [G] stated that each child could have a bedroom and she and her husband would sleep on the couch. Ms. [G] testified that the house was clean but did not produce any pictures.

        38.    Neither Kathyrn [G] nor John Turner attended any parenting classes.

        . . . .

        45.    The Court finds that John Turner . . . and Kathryn [G] all resided in the residence . . . at the time that the home was found to be unlivable. None of the parents made a significant effort to correct the problems at the house or to provide other suitable housing.

        . . . .

        48.    The Court finds that throughout the prior orders it was found that Kathryn [G] and John Turner were not complying with the requests of [DSS].

        49.    The Court finds that the testimony of Kathryn [G] was not credible as it relates to the cleanliness of [J.G.] or the house. The Court finds that Kathryn [G] has never provided suitable housing for the children since they entered the custody of [DSS].

        50.    The Court finds that both Kathyrn [G] and John Turner saw nothing wrong with living in the house with the children in the condition described by [DSS]. . . .
        51.    There is a great likelihood that the conditions in which the children were forced to live with roaches, filth and lack of attention would continue if the children were returned to either parent because neither admits that there was anything wrong with the way they were living.

        52.    There is a great likelihood that the conditions in which the children were forced to live without adequate housing would continue if the children were returned to either parent because no parent has established suitable housing on their own since the children were taken from their care.

        . . . .

        61.    The Court finds as a fact that grounds for termination of parental rights of respondent mother exist in that the mother has neglected the children resulting in their removal as defined in [N.C. Gen. Stat. §] 7B-101 and that the circumstances that necessitated the juvenile's removal has [sic] not been corrected . . . .

        62.    The Court finds as a fact that grounds for termination of parental rights of respondent father of [A.G.], John Turner, exist in that the father has failed to pay a reasonable portion for care for the child, [A.G.], although financially and physically able to do so. The Court further finds that the father of the juvenile [A.G.] has not provided substantial financial support or consistent care with respect to the juvenile. . . .

        . . . .

        64.    The Court finds that reasonable efforts have not been made by Kathryn [G] [or] John Turner . . . to accomplish reunification.

        . . . .
        66.    The Court finds that in the best interest of the juveniles that the respondent mother's parental rights be terminated as to both juveniles and that respondent father, John Turner's parental rights be terminated as to [A.G.] . . . .
Because there is competent evidence in the record to support all of the trial court's findings of fact, we hold that there was no error with respect to the sufficiency or competency of the evidence upon which the findings are based, and therefore the trial court's findings of fact are conclusive on appeal.
    Throughout the hearing, the trial court heard testimony and evidence tending to show that respondent mother failed not only to provide proper care for her children, but that she also failed to establish a suitable, safe and stable home, and she did not comply with any of the requests made by DSS. Based on the evidence presented to the trial court, we hold the court's findings of fact concerning respondent mother were supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. We also hold there was sufficient evidence from which the trial court could find the children were neglected as to their mother, within the meaning of North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-101(15), thus supporting the trial court's order to terminate her parental rights pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(1).
    With respect to respondent father, the court heard evidence regarding his failure to maintain stable housing, and his failure to pay any portion of the costs of care for A.G. while she was in the custody of DSS. Based upon the evidence presented to the trial court, we hold the court's findings of fact were supported byclear, cogent, and convincing evidence. We also hold there was sufficient evidence from which the trial court could find that A.G. was dependent as to her father, within the meaning of North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-101(9), thus supporting the trial court's order to terminate his parental rights pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(6). We further hold that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court's termination of his parental rights pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, sections 7B-1111(a)(3) and (5)d, in that evidence was presented showing that respondent father was employed throughout the year in which A.G. was in DSS' custody and that he failed to pay any costs of her care until just prior to the termination hearing.
    After making its findings of fact, the trial court concluded as a matter of law, that based on its findings of fact, it would be in the best interest of the children that respondents' parental rights be terminated. As the trial court's findings of fact are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence, and they are sufficient to establish that at least one statutory ground for termination of parental rights exists as to each respondent, we therefore hold the trial court properly ordered the termination of respondents' parental rights. Further, as the trial court properly reviewed all of the evidence and testimony presented before it, and determined that it would be in the children's best interest that respondents' parental rights be terminated, we hold the trial courtdid not abuse its discretion in ordering the termination of respondents' parental rights.
    Affirmed.
    Judges HUDSON and STEELMAN concur.
    Report per Rule 30 (e).


Footnote: 1
    Respondent father is the father of A.G. only. The father of J.G. was a party to the termination proceedings, and his parental rights as to J.G. were terminated. He filed no notice of appeal, thus the termination of his parental rights are not the subject of this appeal.

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