FROM THE CONWAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 15PR-16-13]
HONORABLE DAVID H. MCCORMICK, JUDGE
& Stotts, PLLC, by: Adrienne M. Griffis, for appellant.
Law Firm, by: Jeff Wankum, for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE.
Ashley Childress appeals the Conway County Circuit Court
order granting the adoption petition of Tami Rachelle Braden.
On appeal, Lauren argues that the circuit court erred in
finding her consent to the adoption of her son D.B. was not
required because she had failed significantly and without
justifiable cause to (1) communicate with D.B. and (2)
provide child support pursuant to a court order. She also
argues that Tami failed to prove that the adoption was in
D.B.'s best interest. We affirm.
was born on December 2, 2009, to Lauren and Robert
Braden. On May 30, 2012, Robert filed a complaint
for paternity in the Perry County Circuit Court seeking sole
custody of D.B. The affidavit of service reflects that Robert
sent the complaint and summons by certified mail to Lauren
and Lauren's mother, Laurel Childress, at Laurel's
address. Delivery was not restricted to Lauren, and Laurel
signed the return receipt.
4, 2012, Robert filed an ex parte petition for an emergency
temporary order. In the affidavit attached to the petition,
Robert reported that Lauren suffered from a drug addiction
and had appeared to be under the influence of drugs during a
visitation with D.B. On the same day the petition was filed,
the court entered an ex parte emergency temporary order,
granting Robert temporary custody of D.B. On June 5, 2012,
Robert's counsel sent a copy of the June 4 order to
Lauren's address by regular mail with a letter notifying
her of a June 19, 2012 hearing.
19, 2012, the court held a hearing. On that same day, the
court entered a written order noting that Lauren had failed
to appear at the hearing despite having received notice. The
court granted temporary custody of D.B. to Robert and
supervised visitation to Lauren. Specifically, the court
ordered that Lauren's visits with D.B. would be at
Robert's discretion. The court further ordered that
Lauren not be left alone with D.B.
October 15, 2012, Lauren, through counsel, filed a
counterclaim for paternity. She asked the court to award her
custody of D.B., or in the alternative, specific visitation.
On December 18, 2012, Robert's counsel sent Lauren's
counsel a letter notifying him of a final hearing on January
2, 2013. On December 21, 2012, Lauren's attorney filed a
motion to withdraw as counsel, stating that Lauren had
indicated she did not desire legal representation.
January 2, 2013, the Perry County Circuit Court held a final
hearing, and on January 4, 2013, the court entered a written
order granting permanent and full custody of D.B. to Robert.
The court ordered Lauren to pay Robert $26 a week in child
support through the clerk of the court. The court further
ordered Lauren to pay Robert $2, 750 in attorney's fees.
In the written order, the court found that Lauren had failed
to appear at the hearing despite having received notice.
Specifically, the court noted that Lauren
has failed to appear on three (3) different occasions
regarding the custody of the child after notice was given to
her. The Court further finds and orders that the issue of
visitation with the child by [Lauren] is reserved by the
Court pending a Petition of [Lauren] requesting visitation
and any order which may be issued in the future regarding the
years later, on January 15, 2016, Lauren filed a motion to
February 8, 2016, Tami, Robert's wife, filed the instant
petition for adoption of D.B. in the Conway County Circuit
Court. She alleged that since the January 4, 2013 order
issued in Perry County, Lauren had not paid child support or
visited D.B. Thus, Tami asserted that Lauren's consent to
the adoption was not required.
10, 2016, the court held a hearing on the adoption petition.
Robert testified that he filed for emergency custody of D.B.
in 2012 because Lauren had a drug addiction, and he believed
she was a danger to the child. He stated that Lauren had
abused prescription drugs and had also used methamphetamine.
He explained that before the final custody hearing, Lauren
visited D.B. on a few occasions; however, he testified that