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Delacruz v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs. & Minor Children

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

June 17, 2015

MAGALY DELACRUZ, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILDREN, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. JV-2013-501-3. HONORABLE STACEY ZIMMERMAN, JUDGE.

Leah Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, Dependency-Neglect Appellate Division, for appellant.

Tabitha B. McNulty, County Legal Operations, for appellee.

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

BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge. GRUBER and VAUGHT, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 868

BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge

Magaly Delacruz appeals the termination of her parental rights to her two children, A.B. and A.D. In particular, she challenges the circuit court's finding that termination of her parental rights was in the children's best interest. We affirm.

In August 2013, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) petitioned for emergency custody of four-year-old A.B. and three-year-old A.D. after their mother, Delacruz, was arrested for endangering the welfare of a minor, criminal trespass, domestic battery, and interference with emergency communication. Delacruz also tested positive for methamphetamine at the time of her arrest. The Washington County Circuit Court placed the children in the custody of Anna and Jose Guevara, family friends with whom Delacruz and the children had been living, and ordered Delacruz to have no contact with either the children or the Guevaras. In the probable-cause order, the court noted that the Guevaras had a " secondary guardianship" of the children as a result of a 2009 Family in Need of Services case. The court required Delacruz to pass three random and consecutive drug screens before she would be allowed visitation with the children.

The children were adjudicated dependent-neglected in October 2013 due to parental unfitness. Delacruz was ordered to participate in individual counseling, have a drug-and-alcohol assessment and follow the recommendations, submit to random weekly drug screens, obtain and maintain stable housing and employment, and pay child support in the amount of $74 bi-weekly.

Page 869

The children remained in their placement with the Guevaras.

A review hearing held in February 2014 revealed that Delacruz was incarcerated, and the court noted that she had not complied with any of the court's orders or the case plan. The court continued its previous orders for Delacruz and the no-contact order between her and the children. The court also authorized visitation with the maternal grandparents and the maternal aunt every other Sunday, subject to the Guevaras' approval, and noted that " [o]nce day visits go well, if [the] Guevaras agree, visits can be overnight for one night, with Delacruz grandparents."

After a permanency-planning hearing in July 2014, the court changed the goal of the case to adoption. The permanency-planning order noted that Delacruz had been incarcerated since 24 October 2013 and had not complied with any of the court's orders or the case plan. The order also noted that visitation between the maternal grandparents and the children " may continue at the discretion of the Guevaras." DHS filed a petition for termination of parental rights in August 2014, alleging three statutory grounds. On 30 October 2014, Delacruz filed a motion for visitation, explaining that she had been released from prison on 22 August 2014 " and since that time has been in compliance with all the court orders and the case plan, making significant progress toward completion of all requirements." Delacruz requested that she be allowed ...


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