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
MARTIN, Chief Judge.
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
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
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
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
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.
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).
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