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2009-UP-017 - SCDSS v. Andrea L.

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

South Carolina Department of Social Services, Respondent,

v.

Andrea L. and John W., Appellants.

In the interests of two minor children.


Appeal From Richland County
 Donna S. Strom, Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2009-UP-017
Submitted January 2, 2009 – Filed January 8, 2009  


AFFRIMED


Barbara E. Brunson, of Columbia, for Appellant Andrea L.

William C. Wood, Jr., A. Mattison Bogan, Carmen H. Thomas, and Candace C. Jackson, all of Columbia, for Appellant John W.

Anne Marie Ugarte, of Columbia, for Respondent. 

M. Shawn Harmon, of Columbia, for Guardian Ad Litem. 

PER CURIAM:  Andrea L. (Mother) and John W. (Father) both appeal the family court’s final order terminating their parental rights (TPR) to two minor children.  We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR, and the following authorities:

I. Termination of Mother’s Parental Rights

1.  As to whether the family court properly exercised jurisdiction over Mother after it denied Mother’s motion of continuance and did not determine if Mother required the appointment of a guardian ad litem: M&M Group, Inc. v. Holmes, 379 S.C. 468, 474-75, 666 S.E.2d 262, 265 (Ct. App. 2008) (“The grant or denial of a continuance lies with the sound discretion of the trial court and such ruling will not be reversed absent a clear showing of abuse of discretion.”); Thompson v. Moore, 227 S.C. 417, 423, 88 S.E.2d 354, 356 (1955) (“The burden of proving mental incompetency of the subject is upon the appellant who seeks to establish it.”).    

2.  As to whether the family court erred in determining TPR was in the children’s best interests: S.C. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. v. Smith, 343 S.C. 129, 133, 538 S.E.2d 285, 287 (Ct. App. 2000) (holding the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration in a TPR case).       

II. Termination of Father’s Parental Rights

1.  As to whether family court erred in finding Father failed to remedy the conditions leading to his children’s removal: S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-1572(2) (Supp. 2007)[1] (stating the family court may terminate parental rights when TPR is in the child’s best interests and the child has been removed from the parent and has been out of the home for a period of six months following the adoption of a placement plan by court order or by agreement between the department and the parent, and the parent has not remedied the conditions which caused the removal.); Dep’t of Soc. Servs. v. Pritchett, 296 S.C. 517, 520, 374 S.E.2d 500, 501 (Ct. App. 1988) (emphasis in original) (“[A]n attempt to remedy alone is inadequate to preserve parental rights. Otherwise, the statute would be couched in such terms. The attempt must have, in fact, remedied the conditions.”). 

2.  As to whether the family court erred in finding he failed to support the children: S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-1572(4) (Supp. 2007) (Allowing the family court to terminate parental rights when TPR is in the child’s best interests and the child has lived outside the home of either parent for a period of six months, and during that time the parent has willfully failed to support the child); Charleston Co. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. v. Jackson, 368 S.C. 87, 97, 627 S.E.2d 765, 771 (Ct. App. 2006) (“Willful conduct is conduct that evinces a settled purpose to forego parental duties . . . because it manifests a conscious indifference to the rights of the child to receive support and consortium from the parent.”). 

3.  As to whether the family court erred in terminating Father’s parental rights based on the statutory ground that the children were in foster care for fifteen of the past twenty-two months: S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-1572(8) (Supp. 2007) (Allowing the family court to terminate parental rights when TPR is in the child’s best interests and the child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the State for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months).   

4.  As to whether the family court erred in determining TPR was in children’s best interests: S.C. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. v. Smith, 343 S.C. 129, 133, 538 S.E.2d 285, 287 (Ct. App. 2000) (holding the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration in a TPR case).      

AFFIRMED.[2]

HUFF, THOMAS, and LOCKEMY, JJ., concur.   


[1]  Effective June 16, 2008, the General Assembly amended the Code of Laws of South Carolina by adding Title 63, the South Carolina Children’s Code, and transferring all provisions of Title 20, Chapter 7 to Title 63.  See Act No. 361, 2008 S.C. Acts 3623 (stating “the transfer and reorganization of the code provisions in this act are technical . . . and are not intended to be substantive”).  Because Title 63 has not yet been bound, all citations to the statute refer to Title 20.

[2] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.