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In re Guardianship of W.L.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

January 28, 2015

IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF W.L., A MINOR, DAVID LINEHAM, APPELLANT
v.
SARAH RACHEL HYDE ET AL., APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE LOGAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 42P PR-2009-98. HONORABLE DAVID H. MCCORMICK, JUDGE.

Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, P.A., by: Andrew M. Taylor and Tasha C. Taylor, for appellant.

Clark & Murdoch, P.A., by: Timothy W. Murdoch, for appellee.

RITA W. GRUBER, Judge. KINARD and BROWN, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 258

RITA W. GRUBER, Judge

David Lineham appeals from the circuit court's order denying his petition to terminate a guardianship over his daughter, W.L. David argues on appeal that the circuit court clearly erred in refusing to terminate the guardianship and in allowing W.L.'s maternal grandparents to continue as guardians. We affirm the circuit court's order.

W.L. was born on March 31, 2008, to David Lineham and Sarah Hyde in Virginia. At the time, they were living with David's parents in Mount Vernon, Virginia. In July 2009, they moved into a nearby apartment in Alexandria, Virginia. W.L. also spent a considerable amount of time with Sarah's parents, appellees Anna and Dennis Hyde, who both lived and worked in the Washington D.C. area but also maintained a residence on their farm in Logan County, Arkansas.

The relationship between Sarah and David was tumultuous. Although there is some dispute regarding the reasons a guardianship was sought, David and Sarah both signed consents allowing appellees to have a guardianship over W.L. on September 25, 2009. David and Sarah permanently ended their relationship on October 31, 2009, and the order granting the guardianship was entered on December 21, 2009. Shortly thereafter, appellees moved with W.L. to their farm in Logan County, where W.L. has continued to live with them.

On September 25, 2010, David married Danielle. On December 27, 2010, David filed a petition to terminate the guardianship over W.L. The circuit court held a hearing on January 25, 2012, and entered an order denying David's petition on April 9, 2012.[1] In its order, the court found that the guardianship continued to be necessary and that it was in the best interest of W.L. for appellees to remain as guardians. The court specifically stated that the guardianship was necessary to " maintain the normal parental responsibilities such as providing food, clothing and financial support, which [David] has not provided." The court also found that the evidence demonstrated " a lack of a meaningful relationship" between David and W.L. or between David's new wife Danielle and W.L. Testimony indicated that, as of the date of the hearing, David had visited W.L. in Arkansas only one time since initiation of the guardianship in 2009 and had provided no financial support for W.L. The circuit court awarded standard visitation to David. We refer to this order as the " first order."

David did not appeal from the first order denying his petition, but he immediately began exercising visitation, visiting W.L. in Arkansas on weekends and exercising his six-week summer visitation with W.L. in Virginia. Evidence showed that David spent money traveling to Arkansas to visit W.L. and purchasing clothes and toys for her. He did not, however, provide any direct financial support to appellees. In October 2012, Sarah and David filed competing petitions to terminate the guardianship and in December 2012, they filed competing petitions for custody in the event the court terminated the guardianship. The petitions for custody were consolidated into the guardianship. The court held a hearing in August 2013. At the time of the hearing, Sarah was living in a trailer

Page 259

on her parents' farm with her new husband and their two-year-old son. David and Danielle lived in ...


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