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Goodwin v. Ark. Dep't of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III and IV

October 29, 2014

LASHONDA GOODWIN, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES and MINOR CHILD, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. JV-2013-203. HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR., JUDGE.

Dusti Standridge, for appellant.

Tabitha Baertels McNulty, Office of Policy & Legal Services, for appellee.

Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor child.

RHONDA K. WOOD, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and HARRISON, WYNNE, and GLOVER, JJ., agree. BROWN, J., dissents.

OPINION

Page 548

RHONDA K. WOOD, Judge.

The circuit court adjudicated Lashonda Goodwin's child dependent-neglected. Goodwin appeals from the court's adjudication order. Because the court's findings are not clearly against the preponderance of the evidence, we affirm the adjudication order.

Goodwin, 23-years old, gave birth to M.G. in November 2013. The Department of Human Services (DHS) exercised a hold on M.G. after Goodwin reported to hospital staff that she had lost custody of her other children, had a history of depression, had not taken her medication, and had unstable living arrangements. At the adjudication hearing, Goodwin testified to the following facts: (1) she had four other children besides M.G. but did not have custody of any of them; (2) the State of Ohio had terminated her rights to at least one of the children, Ma.G., after he was born weighing one pound, seven ounces; (3) another child, X.G., was taken by the State of

Page 549

Arkansas, then returned, only for Ohio to " come and get [sic] him" ; (4) the longest she had custody of any of her children was seven months; (5) she had a six-year-old daughter living with an " Auntie," but she had not had contact with her in over a year because " Auntie" changed the phone number; (6) two weeks before the hearing, she had moved in with her stepbrother and his wife in a two-bedroom apartment; and (7) she was not employed, and food stamps were her only source of income.

DHS's family-service worker testified that she had not visited Goodwin's new apartment because Goodwin had just moved in right before the hearing. The worker also testified that no home study had been conducted on the father, Michael Lewis, because he had just been released from jail and was awaiting a court date on a revocation charge; [1] thus, he could not pass a home study. In her defense, Goodwin testified that she would be able to keep and care for M.G., unlike her other children, because she had a support network in Arkansas consisting of her stepbrother, her stepbrother's wife, and M.G.'s father.

The court adjudicated M.G. dependent-neglected based on Goodwin's admission that she had lost custody of her other children, her diagnosis for depression, and her unstable housing and income.

In dependency-neglect cases, the standard of review on appeal is de novo, but we do not reverse the court's findings unless they are clearly erroneous or clearly against the preponderance of the evidence. Moiser v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 95 Ark.App. 32, 233 S.W.3d 172 (2006). A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with a definite and firm ...


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