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2011-UP-050 - SCDSS v. Sherry H.

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.

Sherry H., James H., Curtis Ga., and Charles H., Defendants,

Of whom, Sherry H. is Appellant.

In the interest of one minor child under the age of 18.


Appeal From Union County
Robert E. Guess, Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-050
Submitted February 1, 2011 – Filed February 4, 2011   


AFFIRMED


Kenneth Philip Shabel, of Spartanburg, for Appellant.

David E. Simpson, of York, Oshun Cyrus Hinton, of Rock Hill, for Respondent.

James Hayes Walsh and Laura Anne Filler, both of Spartanburg, for Guardian ad Litem.

PER CURIAM:  Sherry H. (Mother) appeals from the family court's final order terminating her parental rights to her minor child (Child), arguing the family court erred in finding termination of parental rights (TPR) was in the best interest of Child.  The family court cited three statutory grounds for termination: (1) failure to remedy condition that caused removal, (2) Mother has a diagnosable condition unlikely to change in a reasonable time, and (3) Child has been in foster care for fifteen of the last twenty-two months.  We affirm.[1]

Mother contends the family court erred in terminating her parental rights because DSS failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that TPR was in the best interest of Child.  Specifically, Mother contends TPR was one of several options that could provide stability for Child and that it is too severe a solution to the situation.  We disagree.

The grounds for TPR must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.  S.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Parker, 336 S.C. 248, 254, 519 S.E.2d 351, 354 (Ct. App. 1999).  "Upon review, the appellate court may make its own finding from the record as to whether clear and convincing evidence supports the termination [of parental rights]."  S.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Headden, 354 S.C. 602, 609, 582 S.E.2d 419, 423 (2003).  However, despite our broad scope of review, this court is not required to disregard the findings of "the family court, who saw and heard the witnesses, [and] was in a better position to evaluate their credibility and assign comparative weight to their testimony."  Id.  The family court may order TPR upon finding one or more of eleven statutory grounds is met and TPR is in the child's best interests.  S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-2570 (2010).  The best interests of the child are the paramount consideration.  S.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Smith, 343 S.C. 129, 133, 538 S.E.2d 285, 287 (Ct. App. 2000).  "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).

We hold the family court correctly found termination of Mother's parental rights was in Child's best interest.  Although Mother seems to be making progress in dealing with her psychiatric issues and expresses a strong desire to maintain the parent-child relationship, Child would be best served by the stability offered by TPR.  To date, Mother has had very little contact with Child, who has lived with his maternal aunt most of his life.  Furthermore, the record indicates Mother's ability to live independently and properly care for a child is limited and not likely to change in the foreseeable future. The need for stability and permanence in Child's life would be in his best interest.  These considerations and Child's guardian ad litem's opinion that TPR would best serve Child further convince us that it is in the best interest of Child to terminate Mother's parental rights. 

AFFIRMED.

WILLIAMS and KONDUROS, JJ., and CURETON, A.J., concur.


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