Appeal by respondent from an order entered 27 January 2005 by
Judge Teresa H. Vincent in Guilford County District Court. Heard
in the Court of Appeals 10 May 2006.
Office of the Guilford County Attorney, by Assistant County
Attorneys James A. Dickens and Sharron Kurtz, for petitioner-
David Perez for Guardian ad Litem.
Carol Ann Bauer for respondent-appellant.
Respondent-mother appeals from an order terminating her
parental rights to Dana and Dawn,
(See footnote 1)
entered 27 January 2005. For
the reasons stated herein, we affirm the trial court's order.
Respondent-mother is the parent of Dana and Dawn. On 15
December 2003, Guilford County Department of Social Services
(DSS) filed a petition to terminate respondent-mother's parental
rights. A hearing was held on 26 July 2004, 29 July 2004, and 2
August 2004. After hearing the evidence presented, the trial court
found that grounds existed for termination, as the children hadbeen willfully left in placement outside the home by respondent-
mother for more than twelve months without reasonable progress to
correct the conditions leading to the removal of the children, and
that respondent-mother had failed to pay a reasonable portion of
care in the preceding six months, although able to do so. The
trial court found that it was in the best interest of the children
to terminate the parental rights of respondent-mother.
A consent order to late filing was entered on 27 January 2005,
nunc pro tunc 1 September 2004. The written order terminating
respondent-mother's parental rights was entered 27 January 2005.
Respondent-mother appeals from this order.
Respondent-mother first contends that the trial court erred by
the entry of the written order more than thirty days following the
hearing terminating her parental rights. We disagree.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1110(a) (2003)
(See footnote 2)
(a) Should the court determine that any
one or more of the conditions authorizing a
termination of the parental rights of a parent
exist, 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. Any order shall be reduced to
writing, signed, and entered no later than 30days following the completion of the
termination of parental rights hearing.
. Relying on In re L.E.B., K.T.B.
, 169 N.C. App. 375, 610 S.E.2d
424, disc. review denied
, 359 N.C. 632, 616 S.E.2d 538 (2005),
respondent-mother contends that the trial court's delay in entering
the written order nearly six months after the hearing was
prejudicial. In L.E.B.
, this Court found a delay of more than six
months in entering a written order prejudicial as it adversely
affected the family relationship between the respondent and the
minors, as well as the foster parent and the minors, and delayed
both subsequent procedural requirements and the finality of the
. at 379, 610 S.E.2d at 426-27. L.E.B.
impact on adoption in its analysis of the demonstrated prejudice in
that case, stating that if adoption became the ordered permanent
plan for the minors, the foster parent must wait even longer to
commence the adoption proceedings. The minors are prevented from
settling into a permanent family environment until the order is
entered and the time for any appeals has expired. Id
. The Court
also noted the advanced age of the children which might decrease
chances for adoption as a factor in determining prejudice in L.E.B.
. at 379, 610 S.E.2d at 427.
However, as recognized by L.E.B.
, absent a showing of
prejudice, the trial court's failure to reduce to writing, sign,
and enter a termination order beyond the thirty day time window may
be harmless error. Id
. at 378-79, 610 S.E.2d at 426. In order
for respondent to obtain a new trial based on the trial court'sfailure to file the order terminating his parental rights in a
timely fashion, he must show prejudice. In re S.B.M.
, ___ N.C.
App. ___, ___, 619 S.E.2d 583, 585 (2005) (finding respondent
failed to show prejudice in delay of five months). Although
[t]his Court has been more likely to find prejudice as the length
of the delay increases, . . . this Court has consistently declined
to adopt a per se
standard even when long delays are involved.
Here, respondent-mother contends that she was prejudiced by
the trial court's failure to enter a written order within thirty
days only as it delayed her filing a notice of appeal to begin the
appellate process. Unlike in L.E.B.
, however, respondent-mother
argues no specific prejudice, such as the impact of the delay on a
potential adoption for the children. As this Court has repeatedly
rejected the adoption of a rule of prejudice per se
even when there
is a long delay in the entry of an order, respondent-mother fails
to demonstrate prejudice sufficient to obtain a new trial. See In
, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___, 625 S.E.2d 594, 596 (2006)
(holding respondent failed to demonstrate prejudice in late entry
of order when respondent alleged that her appellate rights were
compromised by the failure to timely file the written termination
order, but failed to demonstrate which rights were compromised or
in what way).
We further note that a Consent Order Extending Time To Enter
Order was entered 1 September 2004 with the agreement of all
parties, including respondent-mother, in order to permit sufficienttime for preparation and review of the order prior to submission to
the trial court. Respondent-mother may not now argue that she was
prejudiced by late entry of the written order made with her
As respondent-mother fails to show prejudice and consented to
the late entry of the order, this assignment of error is overruled.
In a related assignment of error, respondent-mother contends
that her counsel provided ineffective assistance in consenting to
the late entry of the written order. We disagree.
A parent has a right to counsel in termination of parental
rights proceedings. In re J.A.A.
, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___, 623
S.E.2d 45, 50 (2005). To prevail in a claim for ineffective
assistance of counsel, respondent must show: (1) her counsel's
performance was deficient or fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness; and (2) her attorney's performance was so deficient
she was denied a fair hearing. Id
As discussed supra
, respondent-mother has failed to show
prejudice from the late entry of the order. As prejudice from the
late entry of the order has not been established, respondent had
failed to demonstrate that her attorney's consent to an untimely
entry was so deficient a performance as to deny her a fair hearing.
This assignment of error is overruled.
As respondent-mother failed to demonstrate prejudice from the
trial court's late entry of the written order of termination andfailed to demonstrate that counsel provided ineffective assistance,
we affirm the trial court's order of termination.
Judges BRYANT and CALABRIA concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).