FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT
[NO. 66FJV-17-520] HONORABLE LEIGH ZUERKER, JUDGE.
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
Corbyn, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
MEREDITH B. SWITZER, JUDGE.
Fronterhouse appeals from the March 15, 2019 order
terminating his and Katrina Fronterhouse's parental
rights to their four minor children, M.H., Z.F., P.F., and
R.F. Katrina is not a party to this appeal. Russell
challenges only the circuit court's best-interest
finding, acknowledging there was sufficient evidence to
support the statutory grounds for termination. Specifically,
he contends "it was error for the trial court to find
that termination was in the best interest of his children
because the trial court failed to give preferential
consideration to placing the children with their paternal
grandmother, who had an approved ICPC [Interstate Compact on
the Placement of Children] home study." We affirm.
matter began as a Family In Need of Services (FINS) case. It
progressed to a dependency-neglect case when Katrina had an
automobile a collision while the children were in the
vehicle, and she tested positive for methamphetamine. Efforts
to test Russell for drugs were unsuccessful. The children
were placed in DHS custody in December 2017 and adjudicated
dependent-neglected on January 24, 2018. The original goal of
the case was reunification. As the case progressed, however,
Katrina continued to have drug issues and Russell was
January 30, 2019, the circuit court entered a
permanency-planning order that changed the goal of the case
to adoption following termination. The order explained that
the underlying hearing had started December 13, 2018, and was
continued to January 24, 2019; that DHS had received the
approved ICPC home study for the paternal
grandparents the week of the December 13 hearing; that
a visit with the grandparents was arranged prior to the
January 24 portion of the hearing; and that "[t]he
permanency planning hearing was completed on January 24, 2019
to address the issue of placement with family in
Missouri." The order further provided that "mindful
of the available permanency planning dispositions and in
accordance with the best interest, health and safety of the
juveniles, [the court] does hereby determine the goal of the
case shall be adoption following termination."
the termination hearing began on February 14, 2019, the
children had been out of the parents' custody since
December 2017. The plan for adoption was to keep all four
children together. They had never lived with the paternal
grandparents, and there was no evidence of a strong
relationship with them. Shortly after the termination hearing
had begun, the circuit court recognized Deeanna Weimar, an
attorney representing the paternal grandmother. The following
[Weimar]: I'm not a party to this matter at this point
but the paternal grandmother contacted me this morning and
she has requested I do an oral Motion to Intervene. I
don't know if the Court is going to consider it, based on
basically an approved ICPC Home Study that the Department
denied without having a proper hearing as it required in the
PPH Hearing, and so I was going to request on her behalf that
The Court: I don't think the Department denied the ICPC.
I don't think that's what -
[Weimar]: Well, the Department didn't place, and there
was an approved ICPC and there was no placement with my
The Court: The Court didn't ...