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2010-UP-270 - SCDSS v. Shawn W.

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

South Carolina Department of Social Services, Respondent,

v.

Sallie W., Shawn W., Peter M., and John Doe, Defendants,

Of Whom Shawn W. is the Appellant.

In the Interests of: K.W., S.W.,

and P.M., all minor children

under the age of 18.


Appeal From Marion County
A. E. "Gene" Morehead, III, Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-270
Submitted May 3, 2010 – Filed May 6, 2010   


AFFIRMED


Dennis Hampton Smith, of Surfside Beach, for Appellant.

Newton I. Howle, Jr., of Darlington, for Respondent.

James Gladney McGee, III, of Florence, for Guardian Ad Litem.

PER CURIAM: Shawn W. (Father) appeals the termination of parental rights (TPR) to his minor children.  The family court terminated Father's parental rights pursuant to section 63-7-2570(3) (willful failure to visit), (4) (willful failure to support), and (8) (in foster care for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months) of the South Carolina Code (2010).  Additionally, the family court found TPR was in children's best interests.  On appeal, Father argues the family court erred in finding TPR was in children's best interests when an adoptive home had not been identified.  We affirm.[1] 

The family court may order TPR upon a finding of one or more delineated grounds and a finding that termination is in the best interest of the child.  S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-2570.  The purpose of the TPR statutes are:

 [T]o establish procedures for the reasonable and compassionate termination of parental rights where children are abused, neglected, or abandoned in order to protect the health and welfare of these children and make them eligible for adoption by persons who will provide a suitable home environment and the love and care necessary for a happy, healthful, and productive life.

S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-2510 (2010).

Moreover, the TPR statutes "must be liberally construed in order to ensure prompt judicial procedures for freeing minor children from the custody and control of their parents by terminating the parent-child relationship.  The interests of the child shall prevail if the child's interest and the parental rights conflict." S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-2620 (2010); see also Joiner v. Rivas, 342 S.C. 102, 536 S.E.2d 372 (2000) (overruling prior cases calling for strict construction of the TPR statutes).  Thus, the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration.  Charleston County Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Jackson, 368 S.C. 87, 102, 627 S.E.2d 765, 774 (Ct. App. 2006).

Father does not allege error in the family court's finding statutory grounds for TPR existed.  Rather, Father admitted he only visited children one time after removal and did not financially support children.  Thus, the dispositive issue is whether terminating Father's parental rights is in children's best interests.  Father's behavior as it relates to the statutory grounds for termination can be considered in determining best interests.  See Doe v. Roe, 386 S.C. 624, ___, 690 S.E.2d 573, 578 (2010) (explaining a parent's behavior "as it relates to the statutory grounds for termination is appropriately reviewed for purposes of the best interest analysis because such conduct evinces a settled purpose to forego parental duties").  By Father's own admissions, he was not involved with children "except in very superficial ways and even then on an extremely sporadic basis."  Further, Father admitted he did not support children and had only visited children one time since their removal from their mother's home on May 19, 2005.  Further, Department of Social Services foster care supervisor Martha Stackhouse testified she believed TPR was in children's best interests.  Thus, the termination of Father's parental rights does not conflict with the purpose of the TPR statutes to make children eligible for adoption by someone "who will provide a suitable home environment and the love and care necessary for a happy, healthful, and productive life."  § 63-7-2510.

Accordingly, the family court's order is

AFFIRMED.

WILLIAMS, THOMAS, and KONDUROS, JJ., concur. 


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