An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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

NO. COA05-627

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS

Filed: 7 March 2006

IN THE MATTER OF :                        Wilkes County
J.N.C.,                                No. 02 J 176
    a minor child.

    Appeal by Respondent from order entered 27 October 2004 by Judge David V. Byrd in District Court, Wilkes County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 24 January 2006.
    C.R. “Skip” Long, Jr., for petitioner-appellee.

    Lisa Rowley, for Guardian Ad Litem.


    Duncan B. McCormick, for respondent-appellant.


    WYNN, Judge.

This appeal arises from a 27 October 2004 order terminating Respondent's parental rights to J.N.C. After careful review, we affirm the trial court's order terminating Respondent's parental rights under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(1) (2005).
    The facts pertinent to this appeal are as follows: Petitioner- mother and Respondent-father were married in 1998, and had one child, J.N.C. The parties separated in February 2000 and divorced the following year. On 6 March 2000, the parties signed a consent order granting Petitioner primary physical custody of J.N.C, granting Respondent certain visitation rights and ordering Respondent to pay $300.00 per month in child support.     In September 2000, Respondent's visits with J.N.C. began “slacking off,” and from September 2000 until September 2002, Respondent saw the child once per month or once every other month. In early 2002, Respondent went to jail for seven months. While incarcerated, Respondent sent one letter to J.N.C.; however, he did not acknowledge the child's birthday in August 2002. Respondent did not call Petitioner to ask about J.N.C. during the period of time that he did not see her in 2001 and 2002.
    After his release from jail in mid-August or early September 2002, Respondent asked to visit the child, but Petitioner did not allow the visit. Although Respondent spoke with a magistrate about the enforcement of the March 2000 visitation order, Respondent did not initiate any legal action to enforce his visitation rights.
    On 25 September 2002, Petitioner filed a petition to terminate Respondent's parental rights on the grounds that (1) Respondent neglected the child; and (2) for a continuous period of one year preceding the filing of the petition, Respondent willfully and without justification failed to pay child support in accordance with the child support decree.
    Subsequent to the filing of the termination petition, Respondent was incarcerated on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury,larceny after breaking and entering, breaking and entering, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit first degree murder and robbery. Respondent was convicted on all charges and received consecutive sentences of 220 to 273 months for attempted murder; 116 to 149 months for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury; 220 to 273 months for felony conspiracy to commit first degree murder; ten to twelve months for conspiracy to commit first degree murder; 103 to 133 months for robbery with a dangerous weapon; and ten to twelve months for larceny and breaking and entering.
    The trial court concluded that grounds existed pursuant to sections 7B-1111(a)(1), (4) and (7) of the North Carolina General Statutes to terminate Respondent's parental rights to the minor child as (1) the minor child was a neglected juvenile as defined in section 7B-101(15) pursuant to section 7B-1111(a)(1); (2) Respondent failed to pay the court ordered child support pursuant to section 7B-1111(a)(4) for a continuous period of one year or more; and (3) Respondent had wilfully abandoned the child pursuant to section 7B-1111(a)(7). By order filed 27 October 2004, the trial court terminated Respondent's parental rights . Respondent appealed.

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Preliminarily we note that although the trial court concludedthat grounds existed pursuant to sections 7B-1111(a)(1), (4) and (7) of the North Carolina General Statutes to terminate Respondent's parental rights , we find it dispositive that the evidence is sufficient to support termination of Respondent's parental rights under section 7B-1111(a)(1) . See In re Pierce, 67 N.C. App. 257, 261, 312 S.E.2d 900, 903 (1984) (a finding of one statutory ground is sufficient to support the termination of parental rights) .
     Under section 7B-1111(a)(1), a trial court may terminate parental rights upon the findings that the child is a neglected juvenile. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(1). Section 7B-101(15) of the North Carolina General Statutes defines a neglected juvenile 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 lives in an environment injurious to the juvenile's welfare. . . .

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-101(15) (2005).
    Moreover, our Supreme Court has held that “[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). Further, “[t]o prove neglect in atermination case, there must be clear, cogent, and convincing evidence (1) the juvenile is neglected within the meaning of N.C.G.S. § 7B-101(15), and (2) the juvenile has sustained some physical, mental, or emotional impairment . . . or [there is] a substantial risk of such impairment as a consequence of the neglect.” In re Beasley, 147 N.C. App. 399, 403, 555 S.E.2d 643, 646 (2001) (alteration in original) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
    We note that under our caselaw, incarceration alone is not dispositive on the issue of whether to terminate parental rights. See In re Yocum, 158 N.C. App. 198, 207-08, 580 S.E.2d 399, 405 (2003) (stating “[i]ncarceration, standing alone, is neither a sword nor a shield in a termination of parental rights decision.”). This Court has held that where
        a child has not been in the custody of the parent for a significant period of time prior to the termination hearing, the trial court must employ a different kind of analysis to determine whether the evidence supports a finding of neglect[,] . . . because requiring the petitioner in such circumstances to show that the child is currently neglected by the parent would make termination of parental rights impossible.

In re Pierce, 146 N.C. App. 641, 651, 554 S.E.2d 25, 31 (2001). The length of a parent's incarceration may be considered in determining whether a minor child is in a state of neglect due tothat parent's inability to provide proper care and supervision for the child. See In re P.L.P., __ N.C. App. __, __, 618 S.E.2d 241, 247 (2005).
    The record shows that Respondent was incarcerated on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, larceny after breaking and entering, breaking and entering, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit first degree murder and robbery. As a result of Respondent's convictions on all charges, he received a lengthy imprisonment sentence and it is highly unlikely that he will be able to provide proper care and supervision for the child.
     A conclusion of neglect may also be supported by evidence of a parent's sporadic contact between themselves and their child and their complete failure to provide “personal contact, love, and affection” to their child. Pierce, 67 N.C. App. at 263, 312 S.E.2d at 904 (citation omitted). Here, the trial court found that Respondent had minimal contact with the child. The trial court found that w hen Respondent was not incarcerated, he did not exercise the visitation allowed by the court and his visits began “slacking off” in 2000 and 2001. Although Respondent wrote his parents letters three times per month while incarcerated, Respondent sent only one letter to the child during his seven-monthperiod of incarceration in 2002, and failed to acknowledge the child's birthday in August 2002. Upon his release from jail in 2002, Respondent made one attempt to visit with the child, and Petitioner refused. Respondent never pursued any legal action to enforce his visitation rights. Even after the filing of the termination petition in September 2002, Respondent sent a total of three letters to the child since his incarceration in February 2003 to the date of the termination hearing on 4 June 2004. We hold that this evidence is clear, cogent, and convincing to support the conclusion by the trial court that the child is a neglected juvenile. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(1).
    Because we find there were grounds to terminate Respondent's parental rights under section 7B-1111(a)(1) of the North Carolina General Statutes, we need not address Respondent's remaining assignments of error. See Owenby v. Young, 357 N.C. 142, 145, 579 S.E.2d 264, 267 (2003) (“[t]he finding of any one of the grounds is sufficient to order termination.”).
    Affirmed.
    
Judges HUNTER and JACKSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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