FROM THE STONE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 69JV-14-23]
HONORABLE LEE WISDOM HARROD, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
A. Sharum, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE
Bynum appeals after the Stone County Circuit
Court filed an order terminating her parental rights to Z.L.
(DOB 12-30-2013) and H.B. (DOB 8-26-2015) on January 24,
2017. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial
court erred in terminating her parental rights because (1)
there was insufficient evidence supporting the grounds
asserted in the joint petition to terminate parental rights
and (2) there was insufficient evidence that termination was
in the best interest of her children. We affirm.
is Z.L.'s mother and resided in Searcy, Arkansas. Zachary
Staffen-Lewis (Lewis) is the father of Z.L. and resided in
Mountain View, Arkansas. Lewis had custody of Z.L. Lewis
appeared in the Stone County Circuit Court on unrelated
charges and was ordered to take a drug test. Lewis tested
positive for methamphetamine and admitted to using marijuana.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) was notified. DHS
contacted appellant, and appellant advised DHS that Lewis had
been physically abusive to her in the past. At some point,
appellant threatened to kill herself and her baby, Z.L.
Accordingly, on August 7, 2014, DHS filed a petition for ex
parte emergency custody and dependency-neglect of Z.L. The
trial court granted the petition, finding that probable cause
existed for the removal. Subsequently, the trial court filed
a probable-cause order.
adjudication hearing was held on October 8, 2014. The record
indicates that both parents attended the hearing, but
appellant was incarcerated at the White County jail. The
trial court found that Z.L. was dependent-neglected as
defined in the Arkansas Juvenile Code and that Z.L. was
subjected to inadequate supervision due to the drug use of
the father and threat of harm by the mother due to her threat
to kill her child. The trial court additionally ordered the
The parents are ordered to complete the case plan, comply
with the orders of the Court, and cooperate with the
Department. Additionally, the mother is directed to contact
the Department and provide the Department with her address
upon her release from the White County Jail. The Father is
ordered to cease the use of methamphetamine and all other
controlled substances not prescribed by a medical care
in an agreed order, Harold Staffen, Z.L.'s paternal
great-grandfather, was given temporary custody of Z.L.
However, the trial court ordered that the parents were not
authorized to visit with Z.L. outside court orders and that
the visitation must be supervised in DHS's discretion
with the approval of the attorney ad litem.
review hearing was held on February 4, 2015, and the trial
court found that appellant had not complied with the case
plan. It noted that the mother had been incarcerated in the
White County jail since the case was filed and that she had
missed visitation. In a permanency-planning order filed on
July 22, 2015, the trial court found that DHS had made
reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan but that it
was continuing the case for a subsequent permanency-planning
hearing to hear evidence on the issues regarding parental
compliance, additional visitation, and educational issues.
the proceeding pertaining to Z.L. was ongoing, appellant gave
birth to another child, H.B., on August 25, 2015. A petition
for emergency custody and dependency-neglect was filed after
H.B. was removed from appellant's care. In the attached
affidavit, it stated that H.B. was removed due to the open
case in which appellant has unresolved mental-health issues
that caused her to threaten harm to Z.L., necessitating
Z.L.'s removal. The trial court granted the petition, and
a subsequent order finding probable cause was filed.
this time, DHS discovered that Harold Staffen, the temporary
custodian of Z.L., had allowed Z.L.'s father, Lewis, to
move into his residence despite a court order that prohibited
visitation between Lewis and Z.L. without prior court
approval. The trial court granted a motion for ex parte
emergency change of custody of Z.L. and returned custody of
Z.L. to DHS.
point, the trial court proceeded with hearings for both Z.L.
and H.B.; however, each child was at a different point in
their respective proceedings. The trial court held an
adjudication hearing regarding H.B. and a permanency-planning
hearing regarding Z.L. on September 23, 2015. Regarding H.B.,
the record indicates that Anthony Bynum is his father, and
the trial court found H.B. to be dependent-neglected. In the
adjudication order, the trial court ordered the following:
The Parents [Molly Bynum and Anthony Bynum] are ordered to:
a. Cooperate with the department, comply with the case plan,
and obey all orders of the court.
b. Keep at least weekly contact with the case worker, keep
the department informed of current address, and notify the
department of any changes in address, contact information,
marital status or employment status.
c. Obtain and maintain clean safe and stable housing with the
utilities turned on.
d. Allow the department access into the home for purposes of
e. Obtain and/or maintain stable employment or income
sufficient to support the family.
f. Remain drug free and submit to random drug screens with
any refusal to comply or failure to submit a specimen within
one hour to be deemed a positive result.
g. If prescribed medication, provide proof of medication to
the Department on a regular basis to comply with the results