Return to
Return to the Opinions Page
An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA06-1159


Filed: 20 March 2007


    ACW                             Mecklenburg County
    AITH,                        Nos. 05 J 987-88

Minor Children.

    Appeal by respondent mother from judgment entered 26 June 2006 by Judge Lisa C. Bell in Mecklenburg County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 19 February 2007.

    Tyrone C. Wade for petitioner-appellee Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services.

    Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, by Christopher G. Daniel, for Guardian Ad Litem of the minor children.

    Brannon Strickland, PLLC, by Anthony M. Brannon, for respondent-appellant.

    MARTIN, Chief Judge.

    Respondent mother appeals from an order terminating her parental rights with respect to the minor children ACW and AITH. On 26 July 2004, Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (“DSS”) filed a juvenile petition alleging that ACW and AITH were neglected and dependent minors. The petition alleged that on 9 July 2004, the children, then ages five and three, walked to a neighbor's home unsupervised and that the respondent mother's whereabouts were unknown. Respondent appeared at the neighbor's home approximately five hours later and agreed that the children could remain with the neighbor. The petition further alleged thatrespondent was not employed, did not have stable housing and had not shown appropriate parenting skills. DSS also alleged that respondent had refused to identify the fathers of the children and had indicated that she was not in a position to care for the children but that there were no alternative placement options for them.
    On 1 September 2004, a mediated case plan was developed with a goal of reunification of the children with respondent. On 10 September 2004, the trial court adjudicated the children neglected and dependent. Subsequent to a review hearing on 6 December 2004, the trial court ordered respondent to pay $127.00 per month in child support. On 18 March 2005, a second review hearing was held, which respondent did not attend. On 26 April and 26 July 2005, permanency planning hearings were held. Following the 26 July hearing, the trial court found that respondent had not made sufficient progress for her to be reunited with her children within six months. Consequently, the trial court changed the goal of the plan to termination of respondent's parental rights.
    On 30 September 2005, DSS filed a termination petition. Though the case was set for hearing on 26 January 2006, it was continued until 20 February 2006 due to “unexpected delays in the Court's docket.” Additional hearings on the termination petition were conducted on 28 February, 31 March, 2 May and 22 May 2006. On 26 June 2006, the trial court entered an order terminating respondent's parental rights.

    Respondent first asserts that the order terminating her parental rights must be reversed because the trial court did not hold a hearing on the termination petition within ninety (90) days of the filing of the petition as specified by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B- 1109(a) (2005). However, respondent has not adequately preserved this issue for appellate review. In the section of her brief discussing this issue, respondent cites to assignments of error numbers 45 and 48 which state as follows:
        45. The trial court erred in concluding that grounds existed to terminate Respondent- mother's parental rights because several findings were not supported by clear, cogent and convincing evidence and the findings did not support the conclusion that grounds existed to terminate her parental rights.


        48. The trial court erred by entering conclusion of law number 1 because it was not supported by any of the evidence or findings of fact.
Conclusion of law number 1 in the termination order states only that “this Court has jurisdiction over the parties and over the subject matter in controversy.” Neither of these assignments of error raise, or even suggest, the issue of timeliness of the hearing on the termination petition. See N.C. R. App. P. 10(c)(1) (2006) (requiring that a proper assignment of error “directs the attention of the appellate court to the particular error about which the question is made . . .”); see also May v. Down East Homes of Beulaville, Inc., 175 N.C. App. 416, 418, 623 S.E.2d 345, 346 (2006) (holding that broad, vague, and unspecific assignments oferror do not satisfy the requirements of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure), cert. denied, 360 N.C. 482, 632 S.E.2d 176 (2006). Consequently, we conclude that respondent has not preserved this issue for appellate review, and we decline to consider her argument.
    Even assuming respondent had properly preserved appellate review of this issue, however, she has failed to demonstrate that any delay in the termination hearing resulted in any prejudice to her. See In re H.T., __ N.C. App. __, __, 637 S.E.2d 923, 928 (2006) (holding that “general statements of prejudice per se with respect to the timing delays” are insufficient to warrant reversal of a termination order).
    Respondent next contends the trial court failed to adequately state in its order the grounds for terminating her parental rights. Her assertion is wholly without merit. In its order, the trial court states with specificity each of three grounds it found for terminating respondent's parental rights as set out at N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-1111(a)(1), (2) and (3) (2005). This assignment of error is overruled.
    Respondent next argues that two of the three grounds for termination found by the trial court were not supported by the evidence. In her brief, respondent offers no argument as to the third ground upon which the trial court based its decision to terminate. With respect to this third ground, the trial court concluded that:
        the juveniles have been placed in the custody of [DSS] and the respondent mother for acontinuous period of more than six (6) months next preceding the filing of the petition, have [sic] willfully failed for such period to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of care for said child although physically and financially able to do so. It has cost in excess of $15,000 for placement alone and against this amount, the mother has paid only $606. The Court does not find this amount to be reasonable in that the mother has had employment throughout these proceedings and by her testimony, full time employment, although she has not maintained consistent employment.
Though respondent assigned error to this conclusion of law in the record, she has failed to include any corresponding argument in her brief. Therefore, this assignment of error is deemed abandoned. See N.C. R. App. P. 28(b)(6) (2006); State v. Elliott, 360 N.C. 400, 427, 628 S.E.2d 735, 753, cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 127 S. Ct. 505, 166 L. Ed. 2d 378 (2006).
    A finding of any one of the grounds enumerated in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111 is sufficient to terminate respondent's parental rights. In re Yocum, 158 N.C. App. 198, 204, 580 S.E.2d 399, 403-04 (2003), aff'd, 357 N.C. 568, 597 S.E.2d 674 (2003). Because the above unchallenged conclusion of law, standing alone, constitutes a sufficient basis to terminate respondent's parental rights under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(3), we need not address respondent's arguments pertaining to the other two grounds found by the trial court. See In re S.B.M., 173 N.C. App. 634, 636, 619 S.E.2d 583, 585 (2005) (affirming order terminating parental rights where respondent challenged only two of the three statutory grounds found by the trial court.) Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's order.    No error.
    Judges WYNN and McGEE concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

*** Converted from WordPerfect ***