FROM THE MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 44JV-16-105]
HONORABLE STACEY ZIMMERMAN, JUDGE
Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant Wayne Phillips.
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
appellant Malisa Phillips.
Imbeau, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
J. GLADWIN, Judge
termination-of-parental-rights case, both parents, in
separate briefs, appeal the Madison County Circuit
Court's order of April 16, 2018, terminating their
parental rights to two children, EP (born June 3, 2001) and
CP (born February 3, 2008). Both Malisa Phillips and Wayne
Phillips argue that appellee Arkansas Department of Human
Services (DHS) failed to prove that it made meaningful
efforts to remedy their lack of housing. Malisa also contends
that the circuit court erred in terminating her parental
rights because there was insufficient evidence to support the
grounds for termination or that termination was in the
children's best interest. We affirm.
Standard of Review
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo.
Mitchell v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2013
Ark.App. 715, 430 S.W.3d 851. At least one statutory ground
must exist, in addition to a finding that it is in the
child's best interest to terminate parental rights; these
must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Ark. Code
Ann. § 9-27-341 (Supp. 2017); M.T. v. Ark. Dep't
of Human Servs., 58 Ark.App. 302, 952 S.W.2d 177 (1997).
Clear and convincing evidence is that degree of proof that
will produce in the fact-finder a firm conviction as to the
allegation sought to be established. Anderson v.
Douglas, 310 Ark. 633, 839 S.W.2d 196 (1992).
appellate inquiry is whether the circuit court's finding
that the disputed fact was proved by clear and convincing
evidence is clearly erroneous. J.T. v. Ark. Dep't of
Human Servs., 329 Ark. 243, 947 S.W.2d 761 (1997). A
finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence
to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is
left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has
been made. Yarborough v. Ark. Dep't of Human
Servs., 96 Ark.App. 247, 240 S.W.3d 626 (2006). When
determining the clearly erroneous question, the appellate
court gives due deference to the opportunity of the circuit
court to judge the credibility of witnesses. Dodd v. Ark.
Dep't of Human Servs., 2016 Ark.App. 64, 481 S.W.3d
789. In making a best-interest determination, the circuit
court is required to consider two factors: (1) the likelihood
that the child will be adopted and (2) the potential of harm
to the child if custody is returned to a parent. Swangel
v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2018 Ark.App. 197, at
3, 547 S.W.3d 111, 113.
filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect
(DN) alleging in the attached affidavit that AP,
appellants' daughter born March 22, 1999, had been the
victim of sexual abuse. Officers feared for the safety of her
siblings, EP and CP, and they were taken into protective
custody. The circuit court signed an ex parte order
finding probable cause to believe the children were
dependent-neglected (DN) and could not remain with their
probable-cause order reflects that it was still in the
children's best interest to remain in DHS custody because
of AP's allegations of sexual abuse in the home. The
circuit court also found that appellants did not have stable
housing and that the children had many unexcused absences in
school. The parents were granted supervised visitation and
ordered to (1) cooperate with DHS; (2) attend the case-plan
staffing; (3) keep DHS informed of their address and phone
number; (4) refrain from using illegal drugs or alcohol; (5)
obtain and maintain stable housing, employment, and a clean,
safe home; (6) demonstrate the ability to protect the
children; (7) maintain contact with their attorney; and (8)
follow the case plan and court orders.
order of January 27, 2017, the court found that the goal of
the case should be reunification with both parents. The court
ordered that the ...