IN THE MATTER OF:
S.W., T.W., C.W.
Nos. 01 J 372, 373;
03 J 213
Mecklenburg County Attorney's Office, by Twyla Hollingsworth
George, for Mecklenburg County Youth and Family Services,
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, L.L.P., by Catharine W. Cummer, for North Carolina Guardian ad Litem, petitioner- appellee.
M. Victoria Jayne, for respondent-mother-appellant.
On 13 February 2001, the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS) received a report alleging that S.W. (respondent) was inappropriately disciplining her children, S.W. and T.W. The report was substantiated, and on 4 March 2001, the children were placed in the custody of DSS. On 8 May 2001, both children were adjudicated neglected and dependant as to respondent. Following a dispositional hearing, respondent entered into a case plan with DSS, which was designed to address numerous issuesincluding respondent's mental health needs, parenting abilities, methods of disciplining the children, and finding stable housing.
Over the course of the next three years, DSS intensively worked with respondent as she worked to meet the goals of her case plan. Respondent completed parenting classes and worked with a parent educator for eight months, neither of which resulted in respondent's being able to demonstrate an understanding of her children's needs. Respondent was ordered to cooperate with her mental health treatment, and although she did attend some of the appointments, she failed to comply with the requirements of her treatment and she did not obtain and take her medication as prescribed.
On 14 September 2002, respondent gave birth to a third child, C.W. On 27 February 2003, C.W. was placed into the custody of DSS, and was later adjudicated as a dependent juvenile on 8 April 2003. Motions to terminate respondent's parental rights as to all children were filed on 6 November 2002 and 17 October 2003, citing as grounds for termination of her parental rights neglect, dependency, failure to make reasonable progress, and a failure to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of the children's care. Following three days of testimony and evidence presented at the termination of parental rights hearing, the trial court entered an order terminating respondent's parental rights as to all three children on 2 September 2004. Respondent appeals from the order terminating her parental rights. Respondent's assignments of error and arguments on appeal consist of three statements that there was insufficient evidence presented at trial to support the court's findings of fact and ultimate termination of the mother's parental rights based on neglect, abandonment, and failure to make reasonable progress. However, respondent has failed to assign error to any of the trial court's findings of fact, nor does she present any argument or authority on appeal challenging any specific finding of fact. Therefore, although
respondent does assign error to the trial court's ultimate findings of fact on the grounds supporting termination of [her] parental rights, she does not assign error to the extensive evidentiary findings. To the extent those findings have not been assigned error[,] they are deemed [to be] supported by sufficient evidence and are treated as conclusive on appeal.
In re Clark, 159 N.C. App. 75, 83 n.5, 582 S.E.2d 657, 662 n.5 (2003) (citing In re Caldwell, 75 N.C. App. 299, 301, 330 S.E.2d 513, 515 (1985)).
Respondent also did not appeal the trial court's finding grounds to terminate her parental rights based on the failure to pay a reasonable portion of costs of care, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(3). On appeal, she assigns error only to the trial court's termination of her parental rights on the grounds of neglect, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(1), and failure to make reasonable progress, pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes,section 7B-1111(a)(2). (See footnote 1) Therefore, as respondent has not properly preserved her right to appeal the trial court's termination of her parental rights based on the failure to pay a reasonable portion of the costs of care, this issue is not properly before us and she has waived her right to appeal on this issue. N.C. R. App. P. 10(a) (2005).
As respondent has not appealed the trial court's finding of a ground for termination of her parental rights based on a failure to pay a reasonable portion of the costs of care, the trial court's order on this issue is binding on appeal, and may serve as a basis for the termination of her parental rights. Our courts consistently have held, and our statutes provide, that a finding of any one ground set forth in North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a) is sufficient to support a termination of parental rights. In re Humphrey, 156 N.C. App. 533, 540, 577 S.E.2d 421, 426 (2003). Thus, as the trial court found multiple grounds supporting the termination of respondent's parental rights, including North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a)(3), the failure to pay a reasonable portion of the costs of care, and this issue has not been appealed, we hold the trial court actedproperly in utilizing this ground as a basis for the termination of respondent's parental rights.
Thus, as the trial court properly found one ground as set forth in North Carolina General Statutes, section 7B-1111(a) to serve as a basis for the termination of respondent's parental rights, we hold the trial court acted properly and we decline to address respondent's assignments of error.
Judges WYNN and HUNTER concur.
Report per Rule 30 (e).
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