Ex Parte: Theresa Ann Gathers, Intervenor, Appellant.
April Bailey and Pierre King, Respondents. South Carolina Department of Social Services, Respondent, In the interest of minors under the age of eighteen. Appellate Case No. 2018-000863
Submitted June 20, 2019
From Charleston County Jocelyn B. Cate, Family Court Judge
Mary-Patricia Crawford, of Walterboro, for Appellant.
Jillian D. Ullman, of South Carolina Department of Social
Services, of Charleston, for Respondent South Carolina
Department of Social Services.
Melinda Inman Butler, of The Butler Law Firm, of Union, for
Respondent April Bailey.
King, of North Charleston, pro se.
Taylor Silver, of Silver Law Firm, LLC, of Georgetown, for
the Guardian ad Litem.
Ann Gathers (Foster Mother) appeals an order denying her
motion to intervene in a Department of Social Services (DSS)
removal action. On appeal, Foster Mother argues the family
court erred in (1) denying her motion to intervene and (2)
issuing an order that was incomplete and unsubstantiated
under Rule 26, SCRFC. We reverse and remand for a new
permanency planning hearing.
tested positive for cocaine and marijuana at his birth, and
he was placed with Foster Mother on September 27, 2016. His
older brothers, Sibling 1 and Sibling 2, were placed together
in a different home.
family court held a merits removal hearing on November 3,
2016; at the hearing, the parties agreed DSS would be
relieved of providing services to April Bailey (Mother) due
to her extensive history with DSS. The family court scheduled
the initial permanency planning hearing for May 11, 2017;
Foster Mother did not appear. DSS recommended a permanent
plan of termination of parental rights (TPR) and adoption.
However, this hearing was continued so the court could set a
contested hearing. The family court attempted to hold the
permanency planning hearing on August 8, 2017; Foster Mother
did not attend. The family court relieved Mother's
counsel and continued the hearing because the parties did not
have an agreement and Mother requested a new attorney. The
permanency planning hearing was rescheduled for September 18,
2017, but it was continued because Mother's attorney was
in another trial.
October 10, 2017, DSS provided Foster Mother notice that it
intended to remove Child from her home and place him in an
adoptive placement. On October 23, 2017, Foster Mother filed
a motion to restrain DSS from removing Child and to intervene
in the DSS removal action; the motion indicated Foster Mother
had a pending TPR and adoption action. Foster Mother
submitted an affidavit averring Child was thriving in her
care where he had been for over a year, and Foster Mother and
her husband (collectively, Foster Parents) were emotionally
attached to Child. DSS filed a return opposing the motion.
The hearing on Foster Mother's motion was set for
November 30, 2017, but it was continued due to lack of
January 23, 2018, the family court held the initial
permanency planning hearing. In its March 19, 2018 order, it
adopted the permanent plan of TPR and adoption concurrent
with reunification. The family court acknowledged the
children were doing well in their foster homes ...