FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16JJV-15-216] HONORABLE CINDY THYER, JUDGE
Bowers Lee, 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 child.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge.
Manohar appeals the circuit court's order finding that he
is not the legal or biological father of Y.M. and dismissing
him from the case. We affirm.
July 2015, the Department of Human Services (DHS) petitioned
for emergency custody of newborn Y.M. The accompanying
affidavit explained that both Y.M. and her mother, Vada
Beretto, tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamines
at the time of Y.M.'s birth. Manohar was listed as
Y.M.'s putative father. An ex parte order for emergency
custody was issued, and on 10 July 2015, the circuit court
found probable cause to continue DHS's custody of Y.M.
Manohar was again listed as Y.M.'s putative father.
August 2015, the circuit court adjudicated Y.M.
dependent-neglected due to "parental unfitness due to
the mother's drug use." The court found that Manohar
did not contribute to the dependency-neglect but that he was
not a fit parent for custody because he "lives with the
custodial parent, plus there are issues of domestic
violence." The adjudication order found that Manohar was
the biological and legal father of Y.M., and he was ordered
to complete numerous requirements, including remaining drug
free, completing parenting classes, obtaining and maintaining
stable housing and employment, attending domestic-violence
counseling, submitting to a drug-and-alcohol assessment, and
completing a budget.
January 2016 review order noted that Manohar and Beretto had
been married on 4 December 2015 and that Manohar had been
incarcerated since late December on theft charges. His
expected release date was 3 February 2016. The order noted
that Manohar had completed some requirements of the case plan
but had not completed domestic-violence counseling, obtained
and maintained stable employment, or prepared and submitted a
budget. Both parents were ordered to complete a psychological
evaluation. The order also acknowledged a no-contact order
between the mother and father and cautioned them not to
violate that order.
case was reviewed again in May 2016, and the court found that
neither parent was credible. The court found that Manohar had
completed domestic-violence counseling but had not submitted
to a drug-and-alcohol assessment or a psychological
evaluation and had not prepared and submitted a budget. The
court also noted that Manohar had been incarcerated twice
since the last hearing, but he could not remember the dates
of his incarceration or the reason for his incarceration.
permanency-planning order, entered in July 2016, changed the
goal of the case to adoption. The order noted that Manohar
had met some requirements of the case plan but had not
obtained and maintained stable housing, prepared and
submitted a budget, or submitted to either a psychological
evaluation or a drug-and-alcohol assessment. Without
explanation, the circuit court also ordered DNA testing.
August 2016, DHS petitioned to terminate both parents'
rights to Y.M. The petition listed Manohar as the putative
father in the caption and the legal father in the body of the
petition. As to both parents, DHS alleged the
failure-to-remedy ground and the subsequent-factors ground
for termination. In October 2016, the circuit court
terminated the mother's rights; however, upon
Manohar's motion, the termination petition as it related
to him was dismissed without prejudice.
court reviewed the case in November 2016 and found that
Manohar had complied with most requirements of the case plan.
The court also found that DNA testing showed "a 0.00%
possibility that Mr. Manohar is the father of the
juvenile." Yet Manohar was still ordered to attend NA
meetings and provide proof of attendance to DHS.
December 2016, DHS petitioned to terminate Manohar's
parental rights, citing the subsequent-factors ground and the
non-biological-father ground: "The presumptive legal
father, Lakhraj Manohar, is not the biological father of the
juvenile, [Y.M.], and the welfare of the juvenile can best be
served by terminating the parental rights of the ...