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2011-UP-169 - SCDSS v. U.J.

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.

U.J. and P.W., Defendants,

Of whom P.W. is the Appellant.

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


Appeal From Charleston County
Judy L. McMahon, Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-169
Submitted April 1, 2011 – Filed April 19, 2011   


AFFIRMED


Thomas L. Harper, Jr., of Charleston, for Appellant.

J. Corbitt Hinson, III, of North Charleston, for Respondent.

Carolyn Chaite Berlin, of Mount Pleasant, for Guardian Ad Litem.

PER CURIAM:  P.W. (Father) appeals the family court's May 28, 2010 permanence planning order adopting termination of parental rights (TPR) as the permanent plan for the child.  On appeal, Father contends the family court erred in failing to find a compelling reason to select a permanence plan other than TPR.  We affirm.[1]

 "In appeals from the family court, the appellate court has the authority to find the facts in accordance with its view of the preponderance of the evidence."  Ex parte Morris, 367 S.C. 56, 61, 624 S.E.2d 649, 652 (2006).  "This broad scope of review does not, however, require the appellate court to disregard the findings of the family court."  Id.  "This degree of deference is especially true in cases involving the welfare and best interests of a minor child."  Id. at 62, 624 S.E.2d at 652.       

"If the [family] court approves a plan that is not reunification with the parents, custody or guardianship with a fit and willing relative, or [TPR], the [family] court must find compelling reasons for approval of the plan and that the plan is in the child's best interests."  S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-1700(C) (Supp. 2010). 

Here, no compelling reason supports the family court's approval of a permanent plan other than TPR.  Father's incarceration prevented reunification prior to the child's spending over eighteen months in foster care, and no viable relatives were available to care for the child.  Additionally, evidence supported the family court's finding TPR would be in the child's best interest.  At the time of the trial, the child would have had to remain in foster care for at least another sixteen months awaiting Father's release from prison, even though child does not know Father.  In comparison, Child's foster parents are interested in adoption now and Child's assessment revealed he is a good candidate for adoption.  The child's therapist testified waiting for Father's release from prison would place child at a greater risk for social and emotional problems and attachment disorder. 

Accordingly, the family court did not err in adopting the permanency planning order of TPR. 

AFFIRMED.

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


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