FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16JPR-17-62] HONORABLE PAMELA HONEYCUTT, JUDGE
Branch, Thompson, Warmath & Dale, P.A., by: Adam H.
Butler, for appellant.
Mixon & Heller, P.A., by: W. Lance Owens, Aaron Heller,
and Haley Smith, for appellees.
Klappenbach and Whiteaker, JJ., agree.
F. VIRDEN, Judge
Qualheim seeks to reverse the Craighead County Circuit
Court's denial of her motion to set aside the adoption
decree regarding her biological child, SR. We affirm.
Roush and Tambre Qualheim are the biological parents of SR
(born 9/28/10). In 2011, Jason and Tambre were divorced by
order of the Poinsett County Circuit Court. In 2012, Jason
married April. In 2015, the circuit court awarded Jason legal
custody of SR and granted Tambre visitation subject to her
submission to drug testing. On February 15, 2017, the Roushes
filed a petition for adoption in the Craighead County Circuit
Court requesting that April be named the parent of
In the petition, the Roushes asserted that Tambre's
consent to adoption was not necessary because she had
abandoned SR and that for a period of at least one year,
Tambre had failed significantly and without justification to
communicate with SR or provide for her care and support. The
Roushes contended that because Tambre had abandoned SR, she
was unreasonably withholding consent to adoption. On the same
day, the summons regarding the petition for adoption was
issued. The summons stated that Tambre had thirty days to
respond with a written answer or motion and that failure to
respond would result in a default judgment. Proof of service
was returned showing that the complaint and summons were hand
delivered to Tambre on February 21, 2017.
February 15, Jason filed a motion to modify or suspend the
visitation set out in their ongoing domestic-relations case.
In the petition, Jason asserted that a change of
circumstances had occurred; namely, that Tambre had refused
multiple drug screens and that she had falsely stated that
her visitation was being supervised, which was required if
she refused to submit to drug screening. Jason requested that
the court order immediate drug testing. The notice of hearing
was issued on February 15, and it erroneously stated that a
hearing on the matter was scheduled for March 6 at 9:30 at
the Craighead County Courthouse. In fact, because the case
was a continuation of the divorce proceedings, the hearing
was to be held at the Poinsett County Courthouse.
March 6, 2017, Tambre arrived late to the hearing due to the
mistake in the summons. In the order entered the same day,
the Poinsett County Circuit Court found that Tambre had
failed to appear and that she was ordered to submit to urine,
hair-follicle, and nail testing no later than March 9. The
circuit court found that if she failed to submit to testing,
she would be deemed to have failed the test, and her
visitation would be suspended.
March 24, 2017, the decree of adoption was entered by the
Craighead County Circuit Court. In the order, the circuit
court found that Tambre had been served with the adoption
petition by process server and that she had not responded.
The circuit court also found that Tambre's consent to the
adoption was not necessary because she had unreasonably
withheld her consent contrary to SR's best interest.
August 3, 2017, Tambre filed a motion to set aside the
decree. In her motion she stated that on February 15, 2017,
the Roushes filed a petition to suspend or modify the
visitation set out in their continuing domestic-relations
case in the Poinsett County Circuit Court, and on the same
day the Roushes also filed a petition for adoption in the
Craighead County Circuit Court. The notice of hearing for the
petition to modify visitation erroneously indicated that the
hearing would be held at the Craighead County Courthouse, and
Tambre was late to the hearing because she had relied on the
summons and initially had gone to the wrong courthouse.
Tambre asserted that when she appeared at the hearing on the
motion to modify visitation, she believed she was there, in
part, to contest the petition to adopt. Tambre explained that
the circuit court held the hearing when she arrived, that she
agreed to submit to drug testing, that she was ordered to
refrain from clipping her nails, and that her nails were
photographed. Tambre stated that she "passed" the
drug screen; however, after the hearing, the Poinsett County
Circuit Court erroneously entered an order finding that
Tambre had failed to appear.
asserted that at the adoption hearing on March 24, the
Roushes misrepresented to the court that she had failed to
answer the adoption petition or otherwise appear and that she
was in default. Tambre argued that
[p]etitioners manipulated the procedural status of the
case(s) to obtain a decree of adoption on March 24, 2017, via
default despite the fact that Tambre Qualheim did not
consent, appeared on March 6, 2017, for the only hearing for
which she was given notice, thought she was there to also
defend against the adoption petition and submitted herself