Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Department
2010-UP-230 - SCDSS v. Michelle T.


In The Court of Appeals

South Carolina Department of Social Services, Respondent,


Michelle T., Phillip W., and Jonathan T., Defendants,

Of Whom Michelle T. and Phillip W. are the Appellants.

In the Interests of: B.T. and J.W., both minor children under the age of 18.

Appeal From Anderson County
 Barry W. Knobel, Family Court Judge

Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-230
Submitted March 1, 2010 – Filed April 1, 2010   


C. Lance Sheek, of Greenwood, for Appellant Michelle T.

Cameron G. Boggs, of Greenville, for Appellant Phillip W.

Dottie Ingram, of Anderson, for Respondent.

Rodney Wade Richey, of Greenville, Guardian Ad Litem.

PER CURIAM: This appeal arises from the termination of parental rights (TPR) of Michelle T. (Mother) to her minor children B.T. and J.W. (collectively Children) and Phillip W. (Father) to his minor child, J.W.      Mother and Father both appealed separately, though Father's appeal was filed pursuant to Ex Parte Cauthen, 291 S.C. 465, 354 S.E.2d 381 (1987). 

I.  Mother's Appeal

Mother argues the family court erred in terminating her parental rights pursuant to section 63-7-2570(1) of the South Carolina Code (2008).  Additionally, Mother contends the family court erred in terminating her parental rights when the Children's guardian ad litem (the GAL) failed to comply with statutory requirements.  We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR, and the following authorities:

1.  As to whether the family court erred in terminating Mother's parental rights:  See S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-2570 (2008) (stating the family court may order TPR upon finding a statutory ground is established and also finding TPR is in the best interest of the children); § 63-7-2570(1) (2008) (explaining a statutory ground for TPR is established when "[t]he child or another child in the home has been harmed as defined in [s]ection 63‑7‑20, and because of the severity or repetition of the abuse or neglect, it is not reasonably likely that the home can be made safe within twelve months.  In determining the likelihood that the home can be made safe, the parent's previous abuse or neglect of the child or another child in the home may be considered.").

2.  As to Mother's argument the GAL's failure to comply with statutory requirements denied her certain safeguards and due process of law: Staubes v. City of Folly Beach, 339 S.C. 406, 412, 529 S.E.2d 543, 546 (2000) ("It is well-settled that an issue cannot be raised for the first time on appeal, but must have been raised to and ruled upon by the trial court to be preserved for appellate review."); see also Charleston County Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Jackson, 368 S.C. 87, 104-05, 627 S.E.2d 765, 775 (Ct. App. 2006) (finding a parent's argument that TPR violates his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was not preserved for this court's review when it was not raised to or ruled upon by the family court); See, e.g., Mize v. Blue Ridge Ry. Co., 219 S.C. 119, 129-30, 64 S.E.2d 253, 258 (1951) (explaining an issue is not preserved for appeal merely because the trial judge mentions it in passing).[1]

          II.  Father's Appeal

Upon a thorough review of the record and the family court's findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Ex Parte Cauthen, 291 S.C. 465, 354 S.E.2d 381 (1987), we find no meritorious issues warrant briefing. 

Accordingly, the family court's ruling is  


PIEPER, J., GEATHERS, J., and CURETON, A.J., concur.  

[1] We acknowledge the family court found the GAL failed to fully comply with the statutory requirements.  However, we do not find the actions or inactions of the GAL tainted the family court's finding it was in Children's best interest to terminate parental rights because the family court "did not find it necessary to have relied upon the GAL's recommendations in this case."  Cf. Patel v. Patel, 347 S.C. 281, 286-87, 555 S.E.2d 386, 389 (2001) (explaining the family court erred in awarding custody to a husband when it placed "a great deal of reliance" on the GAL's report and "the GAL's actions and inactions so tainted the decision of the family court in this case . . . .").  

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