NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS
Filed: 16 November 2010
IN THE MATTER OF:
No. 08 JT 19
Appeal by respondent-mother from order entered on or about 8
April 2010 by Judge H. Thomas Jarrell, Jr. in District Court,
Heard in the Court of Appeals on 18 October 2010.
Mercedes O. Chut, for Guilford County Department of Social
Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen, L.L.P.,
Rowlett, for appellee guardian ad litem.
Richard Croutharmel, for respondent-mother.
parental rights to Donnie.1
For the following reasons, we affirm.
On or about 16 April 2008, the trial court filed an order
determining Donnie was a neglected and dependent juvenile.
about 8 April 2010, the trial court terminated respondent-mother’s
parental rights based on the following findings of fact:
Department of Social Services (“DSS”) respondent-mother claimed
A pseudonym will be used to protect the identity of the
-2that Donnie, then age six, “had tried [to] kill her with his spirit
by causing a car in oncoming traffic to swerve into her lane” of
travel. Respondent-mother also accused Donnie of “trying to poison
her” and “speaking to her telepathically[,] . . . calling her names
via his mind to hers.”
Respondent-mother’s accusations caused
Donnie emotional problems.
terminated to another child.
Respondent-mother had a history of
The trial court concluded that three
grounds existed to terminate respondent-mother’s parental rights:
(1) neglect pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(1), (2)
dependency pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(6), and (3)
respondent-mother’s “parental rights . . . with respect to another
child have been terminated . . . and she lacks the ability or
willingness to establish a safe home” pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat.
The trial court also concluded that it was in the
best interest of Donnie that respondent-mother’s parental rights be
The trial court accordingly ordered termination of
respondent-mother’s parental rights to Donnie.
Standard of Review
A termination of parental rights proceeding
consists of two phases. In the adjudicatory
stage, the petitioner has the burden of
establishing by clear and convincing evidence
that at least one of the statutory grounds
listed in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111 exists.
We review whether the trial court's findings
of fact are supported by clear and convincing
evidence and whether the findings of fact
support the conclusions of law.
If the trial court determines that
grounds for termination exist, it proceeds to
-3the dispositional stage, and must consider
whether terminating parental rights is in the
best interests of the child.
The court is
required to issue an order terminating the
parental rights unless it finds that the best
interests of the child indicate that the
family should not be dissolved. While there
is no requirement at this dispositional stage
for the court to make findings of fact upon
the issuance of an order to terminate parental
rights, such findings and conclusions must be
made upon any determination that the best
interests of the child require that rights not
We review the trial court's
decision to terminate parental rights for
abuse of discretion.
In re Anderson, 151 N.C. App. 94, 97-98, 564 S.E.2d 599, 602 (2002)
(citation and quotation marks omitted).
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(9)
Respondent-mother contends the trial court erred by concluding
that any grounds existed for termination of her parental rights.
Respondent-mother argues that her parental rights should not have
been terminated pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(9) which
provides that “[t]he court may terminate the parental rights upon
a finding [that] . . . [t]he parental rights of the parent with
involuntarily by a court of competent jurisdiction and the parent
lacks the ability or willingness to establish a safe home.”
Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(9) (2009) (emphasis added).
“The scope of review on appeal is limited to issues so
discussed in a party’s brief are deemed abandoned.” N.C.R. App. P.
28(a). Respondent-mother failed to challenge finding of fact 37
which provides that “[t]he mother’s parental rights have been
-4involuntarily terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction as to
Thus, the only issue before this Court is whether
there was clear and convincing evidence presented to support the
findings of fact upon which the trial court based its conclusion
establish a safe home.”
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(9).
trial court made findings of fact regarding respondent-mother’s
history with domestic violence, and respondent-mother challenges
these findings which include:
The mother has had a pattern of violent
relationships ever since the child came
into custody in spite of attending
sessions designed to address issues of
The mother had a violent altercation with
her step-father after the juvenile came
The mother also had a woman living with
her who was violent and causing problems
for some time before leaving the mother’s
Respondent-mother claims that findings of fact 33 through 35 are
not supported by competent evidence.
Okay. You also testified that you were
charges against him?
Yes, because he, um, tried to stab me
with a knife at one incident.
Did you take out a 50B against him?
I took out--year, I took out a
. . . .
Q. . . . Did you go to domestic violence
I went to Crossroad classes.
. . . .
Now, regarding–regarding the domestic
violence program that you attended and you’ve
already talked about, did you have a, a woman
living with you in the past couple years that
was violent--had a violence problem?
Not but one.
Was there a woman living in your home?
Have you had any female roommates since
D[onnie] came into custody?
And was there one that with whom violence
was a problem that you had to finally get rid
of because of that?
I had to get rid of her
because she was tripping.
And did you have any kind of
violent altercation with your stepfather in
the last couple of years?
My stepdad and my mom’s second
Okay. Did you have a 50B out of [sic]
C[arl] back when D[onnie] was born?
And you returned--but you
together with him after that?
Goodman, testified that respondent-mother has “consistently been in
domestic violence situations. She's been in situations where I--I
call her judgment into question about who she has living with her.
And my concern is really for D[onnie] that something--something
really bad at some point would happen to D[onnie.]” Mr. Goodman was
specifically asked, “So, do you think [respondent-mother] has the
ability to establish a safe home for D[onnie]?” to which he
Also, Ms. Sandra Hurley, a foster care social worker
with DSS, testified that she was not certain Donnie would be safe
if respondent-mother was not on her medication and that respondentmother “has a history of inviting people to stay in her home that
often have problems and she has a history of getting into physical
altercations with people in the home or relatives.”
conclude that there was clear and convincing evidence to support
the trial court’s findings of fact 33 through 35 regarding domestic
We further conclude that findings of fact 33 through 35
and 37 support the trial court’s conclusion of law that respondentmother’s parental rights could be terminated pursuant to N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(9).
See In re R.P.C., 185 N.C. App. 159, 647
S.E.2d 688 (2007) (unpublished).
This argument is overruled.
Respondent has raised arguments as to the other grounds for
termination of her parental rights found by the trial court;
however, because only one of the grounds for termination under N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111 is needed to support the order for termination
-7of parental rights, we need not consider any arguments related to
other grounds found by the trial court.
See In re P.L.P., 173 N.C.
App. 1, 8, 618 S.E.2d 241, 246 (2005) (citation omitted), aff’d per
curiam, 360 N.C. 360, 625 S.E.2d 779 (2006).
Respondent-mother also contends that the trial court abused its
discretion in terminating her parental rights, particularly by
inappropriately relying on the testimony of Donnie’s therapist, Ms.
However, “it is th[e] judge's duty to weigh and
consider all competent evidence, and pass upon the credibility of
the witnesses, the weight to be given their testimony and the
reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom.”
In re Whisnant, 71
N.C. App. 439, 441, 322 S.E.2d 434, 435 (1984).
(a) After an adjudication that one or
more grounds for terminating a parent's rights
exist, the court shall determine whether
terminating the parent's rights is in the
juvenile's best interest. In making this
determination, the court shall consider the
The age of the juvenile.
The likelihood of adoption of the
Whether the termination of parental
rights will aid in the accomplishment
of the permanent plan for the
The bond between the juvenile and the
The quality of the relationship
between the juvenile and the proposed
adoptive parent, guardian, custodian,
or other permanent placement.
N.C. Gen. Stat. §
Any relevant consideration.
Here, the trial court found that Donnie was eight years old;
adoption was very likely as he was living with a foster family that
wanted to adopt him as soon as legally possible; termination of
parental rights would accomplish the permanent plan of adoption;
although Donnie had a bond with respondent-mother, he had indicated
to his therapist that he did not wish to return to respondentmother’s custody; and Donnie had bonded with his current foster
family, which had been meeting his needs and providing the love and
support expected of a family.
We conclude that the trial court did
not abuse its discretion in determining it was in the best interest
of Donnie that respondent-mother’s parental rights be terminated.
This argument is overruled.
We affirm the trial court’s order terminating respondent’s
Judges HUNTER, Robert C. and HUNTER, JR., Robert N. concur.