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2011-UP-429 - SCDSS v. Jacqueline C.

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.

Jacqueline C., James H., Martin C., Defendants,

Of whom James H. is the Appellant.

In the interest of a minor child under the age of 18 years.


Appeal From York County
Henry T. Woods, Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No.  2011-UP-429 
Submitted September 1, 2011 – Filed October 3, 2011
#2010174646


AFFIRMED


Elizabeth Hope Rainey, of Rock Hill, for Appellant.

David E. Simpson, of Rock Hill, for Respondent.

Rosalee Hix Davis, of Rock Hill, for Guardian Ad Litem.

PER CURIAM: James H. (Father) appeals the family court's order terminating parental rights (TPR) to his minor child (Child).  On appeal, Father argues the family court erred in: (1) granting TPR on the unpled statutory ground that Child has resided in foster care for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months; (2) considering the testimony of the foster parent and potential adoptive parent for the best interest of the child analysis; (3) allowing the Department of Social Services (DSS) to argue that TPR was the only placement option for Child because section 63-7-1700(F) of the South Carolina Code (2010) does not permit an extension of the permanency placement plan beyond eighteen months after Child was placed in foster care; (4) terminating Father's parental rights when DSS's complaint failed to set forth the underlying factual circumstances as required by section 63-7-2540(6); and (5) granting TPR when the family court's prior orders concerning Child's protection and permanency failed to provide Father notice as required under section 63-7-1680 that if he did not comply with his treatment plan, his parental rights could be terminated in six months.  We affirm[1] pursuant to Rule 220(b)(1), SCACR, and the following authorities:      

1.  As to whether the family court erred in allowing DSS to argue that TPR was the only placement option for Child because section 63-7-1700(F) does not permit an extension of the permanency placement plan beyond eighteen months after Child was placed in foster care: Hooper v. Rockwell,  334 S.C. 281, 291, 513 S.E.2d 358, 364 (1999) ("[A]ny order issued as a result of a merit hearing, as well as any later order issued with regard to a treatment, placement, or permanent plan, is a final order that a party must timely appeal."); Reiss v. Reiss, 392 S.C. 198, 206-07, 708 S.E.2d 799, 803 (Ct. App. 2011) (finding an unappealed ruling becomes the law of the case and cannot be considered on appeal). 

2.   As to whether the family court erred in giving too much weight to the testimony of the foster parent and potential adoptive parent for the best interest of the child analysis: Lewis v. Lewis, 392 S.C. 381, 388-89, 709 S.E.2d 650, 653-54 (2011) (noting although this court reviews the family court's findings de novo, we are not required to ignore the fact that the family court, who saw and heard the witnesses, was in a better position to evaluate their credibility and assign comparative weight to their testimony); Ex parte Morris, 367 S.C. 56, 61-62, 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. This degree of deference is especially true in cases involving the welfare and best interests of a minor child.") (internal citation omitted). 

3.  As to Father's remaining issues: Biggins v. Burdette, 392 S.C. 241, 246, 708 S.E.2d 237, 240 (Ct. App. 2011) (finding an issue is not preserved for our review when it is not raised to and ruled on by the family court). 

AFFIRMED.

SHORT, WILLIAMS, and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.


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