FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT
[NO. JV-2014-295] HONORABLE LEIGH ZUERKER, JUDGE
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission,
Dependency-Neglect Appellate Division, for appellant.
A. Sharum, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith Chrestman, attorney ad litem
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge
Timmy Scrivner appeals an order of the Sebastian County
Circuit Court terminating his parental rights to his three
children, B.S. (08/24/08), A.S. (12/23/10), and K.S.
(10/05/11). He raises two arguments on appeal: a challenge to
the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the circuit
court's best-interest determination and a due-process
challenge based on his absence at the permanency-planning
hearing. We affirm.
begin our analysis with a recognition that termination of
parental rights is an extreme remedy and in derogation of the
natural rights of the parents. Crawford v. Ark. Dep't
of Human Servs., 330 Ark. 152, 951 S.W.2d 310 (1997). We
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo.
Dinkins v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 344 Ark.
207, 40 S.W.3d 286 (2001). In termination cases, the circuit
court must find by clear and convincing evidence that a
parent is unfit and that termination is in the best interest
of the child. J.T. v. Ark. Dep't of Human
Servs., 329 Ark. 243, 947 S.W.2d 761 (1997). This
normally involves a two-step analysis: (1) that the
Department of Human Services (DHS) prove one or more of the
statutory grounds for termination and (2) that the
termination of parental rights is in the child's best
interest. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(A) & (B)
(Repl. 2015). Because Scrivner does not challenge the
statutory grounds, we will address only the best-interest
portion of the analysis.
Best Interest of the Child
first argues that there was insufficient evidence presented
at the hearing to support the circuit court's
best-interest determination. We now turn our attention to the
evidence before the circuit court.
is the father of B.S., A.S., and K.S. Laura Church is the mother
of all three children. In April 2014, DHS removed A.S. and K.S.
from the custody of Church. The children were removed by DHS
for the following reasons: A.S. had burned himself on the
forehead with a torch while in the care of Church; Church
lived in a "well known drug house"; and Church
admitted smoking methamphetamine. B.S. was not removed by DHS
because he was not living with Church at the time and was
being cared for by the maternal grandmother. At the time of
removal, Scrivner was incarcerated.
filed a petition for dependency-neglect on A.S. and K.S. and
an amended petition for dependency-neglect on B.S. The court
adjudicated all three children dependent- neglected, granted
custody of A.S. and K.S. to DHS, and granted
less-than-custody protections for B.S., maintaining the
status quo placement of B.S. with the maternal grandmother.
most of the proceeding, Scrivner remained incarcerated. He
was ordered to obtain and maintain stable and appropriate
housing, income, and transportation; complete
drug-and-alcohol assessments and all recommended treatment;
complete a psychological evaluation and all recommended
treatment; complete parenting classes; submit to random drug
screens and hair-follicle testing; and visit the children
regularly. His compliance with these directives was poor. In
a November 2014 review order, the court found that Scrivner
had made no progress on the case plan, had not provided any
proof of completion of any services obtained in prison, had
not completed any parenting classes, and had participated in
only one drug screen. The court further found that Scrivner
had not visited with the juveniles prior to their placement
with the grandmother.
permanency-planning hearing,  the court found that Scrivner was
not diligently working toward reunification and had not made
significant or measurable progress toward achieving the goals
established in the case plan, remedying the conditions that
caused removal, or remedying the conditions that prohibited
the placement of the children in his home. Specifically, the
court found that Scrivner had not made any progress on the
case plan; had not provided proof of completion of any
services obtained in prison; had not provided any evidence
that he had maintained stable and appropriate housing,
income, or transportation; had not completed parenting
classes; had not completed a psychological evaluation or any
recommended treatment; had not completed a drug-and-alcohol
assessment or any recommended treatment; and had visited the
children only twice during the review period.
subsequently filed a petition to terminate, and after the
termination hearing, the circuit court granted the petition.
In so doing, the circuit court found that the children would
be subject to a great risk of potential harm if returned to
Scrivner's custody and that there was little likelihood
that continued services would result in reunification. In
support of its conclusion, the court noted Scrivner's
continuing and untreated substance abuse, as well as his
domestic-violence and criminal issues.
argues that the termination of his parental rights was not
necessary or essential to protect the best interest of the
children. He notes that the children were placed with their
maternal grandmother. Because of this placement, he argues
that the children were not languishing in the foster-care
system; that the relative placement was a less-restrictive
alternative to termination, which negated the compelling need
for permanency by termination; and that termination would not
provide any greater stability for the children. Scrivner also
argues that the termination of parental rights was contrary
to the best interest of the children by cutting the positive
family ties between the children and his family and by