FROM THE PERRY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 53JV-17-11],
HONORABLE PATRICIA JAMES, JUDGE
Standridge, for appellee Jacklyn Gabbard.
Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, for minor children.
R. BAKER, Associate Justice
appeal stems from the Perry County Circuit Courts September
14, 2018 order granting permanent custody of the appellants,
minor children M.G.1, C.G., K.G., and M.G.2, to Melissa and
Lawrence Gabbard, paternal aunt and uncle of the minor
children. We hold that the appeal is timely and remand this
matter to the court of appeals for further action.
September 20, 2017, appellee, Arkansas Department of Human
Services (DHS) took emergency custody of the minor children.
On September 22, 2017, DHS filed an ex parte petition for
emergency custody and dependency-neglect and an order was
issued placing the minor children in the custody of DHS. On
September 25, 2017, the circuit court entered a
probable-cause order, and on November 8, 2017, the circuit
court entered an adjudication/disposition order that
continued the minor childrens custody placement with DHS.
The minor children were adjudicated dependent-neglected as a
result of parental unfitness and neglect by their mother,
appellee Jacklyn Gabbard. The order also found that, knowing
of Jacklyns drug history, their father, Micah Gabbard,
contributed to the dependency-neglect by agreeing to leave
appellants in Jacklyns care following their divorce. On
March 7, 2018, the circuit court entered a review order
the case goal was reunification with a concurrent goal of
relative placement/guardianship and also stating that the
minor children were in the foster home of Melissa and
Lawrence and that their needs were being met. On April 16,
2018, the minor children filed a motion to suspend visitation
and for no contact against Jacklyn. Jacklyn filed a response
on April 20, 2018, and on April 23, 2018, the circuit court
entered an order suspending visitation and ordering no
contact between Jacklyn and the minor children.
August 27, 2018, the circuit court conducted a
permanency-planning hearing. On September 14, 2018, the
circuit court entered an order awarding permanent custody to
Melissa and Lawrence and closed the dependency-neglect case
that DHS had brought against Jacklyn and Micah. On September
24, 2018, pursuant to Rule 60 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil
Procedure, the minor children filed a motion for relief from
judgment, and on October 8, 2018, Jacklyn responded. On
October 23, 2018, the circuit court denied the motion. On
October 12, 2018, the minor children filed a notice of appeal
of the circuit courts September 14, 2018 order granting
permanent custody to Melissa and Lawrence. On November 2,
2018, the minor children filed an amended notice of appeal
appealing the permanent-custody award and the denial of the
Rule 60 motion.
minor children appealed to the court of appeals, which
dismissed the matter for lack of jurisdiction. Minor
Children v. Arkansas Dept of Human Servs., 2019
Ark.App. 242, at 1, 576 S.W.3d 67, 68. On June 20, 2019, we
granted the minor childrens petition for review. When we
grant a petition for review, we consider the appeal as though
it had been originally filed in this court. Bohannon v.
Robinson, 2014 Ark. 458, at 4, 447 S.W.3d 585, 587. The
minor children present three issues on appeal: (1) the
circuit courts failure to make a not-best-interest finding
makes its permanency-plan selection erroneous; (2) the
circuit courts custody decision is not supported by
sufficient evidence because no written home study was
presented to the circuit court; and (3) the circuit court
erred when it failed to give the statutory required notice
that the case would be closed.
reaching the merits, we must first address jurisdiction
because jurisdiction is a threshold issue, as well as the
basis of the order being appealed. Thomas v. State,
2014 Ark. 123, at 2, 431 S.W.3d 923, 925. This appeal stems
from a dependency-neglect case in which the circuit court
entered an order awarding permanent custody. Arkansas Supreme
Court Rule 6-9 (2018), "Rule for appeals in
dependency-neglect cases," provides that the following
orders may be appealed from dependency-neglect proceedings:
(a) Appealable Orders.
(1) The following orders may be appealed from
(A) adjudication order;
(B) disposition, review, no reunification, and permanency
planning order if the court directs entry of a final judgment
as to one or more of the issues or parties based upon the
express determination by the court supported by factual
findings that there is no just reason ...