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Cooper v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

October 2, 2019

BETHANY COOPER APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILDREN APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE CLEBURNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 12JV-17-10] HONORABLE LEE WISDOM HARROD, JUDGE

          Tina Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.

          Andrew Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.

          Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor children.

          RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE

         Bethany Cooper appeals the Cleburne County Circuit Court order terminating her parental rights to her children, A.C. (1/16/04), SC (11/16/05), and K.C. (6/19/07). On appeal, Bethany argues that the circuit court erred by finding that it was in the children's best interest to terminate her parental rights. We affirm.

         On May 3, 2016, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for an ex parte emergency order for protection of A.C., S.C., and K.C., and it listed Bethany as their noncustodial mother. In the affidavit attached to the petition, DHS stated that the children were living with their father, Johnny Cooper, and their stepmother, Jessica Cooper, and that Johnny and Jessica had domestic-violence and alcohol-consumption issues. DHS proposed a protection plan, which Johnny and Jessica had agreed to. The court entered an ex parte order for protection on May 6. On June 20, the court entered a probable-cause order. The court noted that Bethany was not present and that she had previously lost custody of the children.

         On July 20, the court adjudicated the children dependent-neglected because of inadequate supervision and parental unfitness due to the issues between Johnny and Jessica. Bethany was not present at the hearing.

         On October 26, the court held a review hearing, and Bethany appeared. The court found that Bethany had housing and employment but had not maintained regular contact with DHS and had not visited the children regularly. The court noted that Bethany had tested positive for methamphetamine and MDMA that day, but it granted her supervised visitation.

         On November 22, DHS filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect. DHS alleged that Johnny had been arrested for driving while intoxicated and domestic battery. The court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody on November 23, and on December 6, the court entered an order finding probable cause for the emergency custody.

         On March 8, 2017, the court held a review hearing. The court noted that Bethany did not appear for the hearing but found that the parties had agreed not to hold a second adjudication hearing. The court found that Bethany had been substantially compliant with the case plan. The court noted that DHS indicated it was close to a trial home placement with Bethany.

         The court held a review hearing on June 9. The court found that Bethany was substantially compliant and had completed inpatient drug treatment and attended mental-health counseling. On September 20, the court held a review hearing and found that Bethany had employment and housing. However, the court noted that she had failed a hair-follicle screening in June and that she had been recommended for additional inpatient drug treatment. The court appointed counsel to represent Bethany.

         On November 17, the court held a permanency-planning hearing. The court changed the goal of the case to adoption and found that Bethany had not been compliant with the case plan. Specifically, the court noted that after failing the hair-follicle screening, Bethany had tested positive on urine drug screenings. The court further noted she had been arrested but had been released on October 30.

         On January 23, 2018, DHS filed a petition to terminate Bethany's parental rights. DHS alleged the failure-to-remedy, [1] subsequent-factors, [2] and aggravated-circumstances grounds.[3] The court ...


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