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.
Submitted May 24, 2017
From Lancaster County W. Thomas Sprott, Jr., Family Court
Melinda Inman Butler, of The Butler Law Firm, of Union, for
Shannon Lee Felder, of the South Carolina Department of
Social Services, of Lancaster, for Respondent.
Margaret Johnston, of Columbia, for the Guardian ad Litem.
James (Mother) appeals the family court's order, which
awarded custody of her two minor children to their kinship
caregivers and allowed DSS to close the case. We
appeals from the family court, the appellate court has
jurisdiction to find facts in accordance with its view of the
preponderance of the evidence." Lewis v. Lewis,
392 S.C. 381, 384, 709 S.E.2d 650, 651 (2011) (quoting
Eason v. Eason, 384 S.C. 473, 479, 682 S.E.2d 804,
807 (2009)). However, this court is "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." Fiddie v. Fiddie, 384 S.C. 120,
124, 681 S.E.2d 42, 44 (Ct. App. 2009). Accordingly, "an
appellant is not relieved of [the] burden to demonstrate
error in the family court's findings of fact."
Lewis, 392 S.C. at 392, 709 S.E.2d at 655. This
court will affirm the family court's findings unless the
appellant shows the family court's findings are not
supported by the preponderance of the evidence. Id.
Mother failed to show the preponderance of the evidence was
against the family court's finding that a permanent plan
of relative placement was in the best interest of the
children. The permanency planning statute allows the family
court to award custody to "a suitable, fit, and willing
relative" if it is in the best interest of the child.
S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-1700(G) (Supp.
2016). During the hearing, the DSS caseworker
testified Mother did not provide adequate supervision for the
children despite DSS's efforts to assist her in doing so.
Further, the DSS caseworker testified Mother failed to
consistently visit the children. Additionally, the Guardian
ad Litem (GAL) testified the children were prospering in
their placements. She explained Mother's ten-year-old son
stated he wanted to remain with his uncle, where he had lived
for seventeen months. The GAL also expressed concerns about
returning Mother's two-year-old son to her care because
she was not sure if he really knew Mother. We find the
foregoing supports the family court's finding that a
permanent plan of relative placement was in the
children's best interest, and Mother has failed to show
the family court's findings were against the
preponderance of the evidence. See Lewis, 392 S.C.
at 389, 709 S.E.2d at 654 (providing the appellate court will
affirm the family court's findings unless the appellant
satisfies his burden of showing the preponderance of the
evidence is against the family court's findings).
GEATHERS, MCDONALD, and HILL, JJ., concur.