FROM THE MILLER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 46JV-16-178]
HONORABLE CARLTON D. JONES, JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Commission for Parent Counsel, for
K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, Judge
appeal arises from the circuit court's March 29, 2019
order terminating the parental rights of Tijuanna Crawford to
her four children, KC, JM, DC, and DC1. No putative or legal
father participated in these proceedings. The children were
removed from their mother's legal custody in September
2016 by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).
Crawford was incarcerated at that time, and the children were
taken from their maternal grandmother, who was deemed an
unfit caregiver. The circuit court found that, after
approximately two and a half years during which reunification
services had been provided, the mother failed to demonstrate
that she could provide a safe and stable home for her
children. The circuit court found that DHS proved four
statutory grounds on which to terminate her rights, and it
also found that it was in the children's best interest to
terminate her parental rights. Crawford appeals and argues
that the lack of express written findings of fact in the
order requires reversal and remand to the circuit court to
issue explicit findings of fact underpinning its legal
conclusions. We affirm.
case, DHS alleged, and the circuit court found that it
proved, four statutory grounds provided in Arkansas Code
Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(Supp. 2017) against
Crawford: (1) one year out of custody and failure to remedy;
(2) willful failure to provide significant support or to
maintain meaningful contact with the children; (3) subsequent
other factors preventing reunification; and (4) aggravated
circumstances with little likelihood of reunification. In its
order, the circuit court stated that it considered "the
testimony, exhibits, statements of the parties and counsel,
the record herein, and other things and matters
presented," and it set out each of the statutory grounds
with particularity. The order did not elaborate on the
evidence that supported each statutory ground. Crawford's
appellate argument is a procedural one, not substantive.
Crawford's argument is unconvincing.
did not request specific findings of fact from the circuit
court, nor can she cite any authority for the proposition
that the court in this termination proceeding is otherwise
obligated to expressly make specific findings of fact to
support each of its findings on statutory grounds and best
interest absent a request to do so. See Chaffin v. Ark.
Dep't of Human Servs., 2015 Ark.App. 522, 471 S.W.3d
251. The failure of a party to request special findings of
fact amounts to a waiver of that right. Smith v. Quality
Ford, Inc., 324 Ark. 272, 276, 920 S.W.2d 497, 499
(1996). In the absence of a statute or rule requiring
specific findings of fact or a timely request for specific
findings under Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 52, the
appellate court will ordinarily presume that the trial court
made the findings necessary to support its judgment. See
Curry v. Pope Cty. Equalization Bd., 2011 Ark. 408, 385
S.W.3d 130; Marshall v. Rubright, 2017 Ark.App. 548;
Chaffin, supra; Am. States Ins. Co. v.
Williams, 2010 Ark.App. 840. "[W]hen the trial
court fails to make certain findings of fact, the appellate
court, under its de novo review, may nonetheless conclude
that the evidence supported the decision." Chastain
v. Chastain, 2012 Ark.App. 73, at 12, 388 S.W.3d 495,
502 (citing Hamilton v. Barrett, 337 Ark. 460, 989
S.W.2d 520 (1999)). In determining whether the circuit judge
clearly erred in a finding, the appellate court may look to
the whole record to reach that decision. Stehle v.
Zimmerebner, 375 Ark. 446, 455, 291 S.W.3d 573, 580
(2009). Indeed, de novo review of the evidence makes it
incumbent on the appellate court to review the entire record
of the evidence presented to the circuit court. See
ConAgra, Inc. v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 342 Ark. 672, 678,
30 S.W.3d 725, 729 (2000).
of parental rights is a two-step process requiring a
determination that the parent is unfit and that termination
is in the best interest of the child. Houseman v. Ark.
Dep't of Human Servs., 2016 Ark.App. 227, 491 S.W.3d
153. We review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo.
Id. The grounds for termination of parental rights
must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, which is the
degree of proof that will produce in the fact-finder a firm
conviction regarding the allegation sought to be established.
extent that Crawford contends there is insufficient evidence
on which to terminate her parental rights, we disagree. In
our de novo review of this record, if any one of the four
alleged statutory grounds has been adequately supported, then
we will not reverse the circuit court's order as to
grounds. McDaniel v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs.,
2019 Ark.App. 335, 579 S.W.3d 184. For purposes of appeal, we
focus on the subsequent-other-factors ground, and this record
supports the circuit court's order.
Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a)
sets forth the subsequent-other-factors ground for
termination: that other factors or issues arose subsequent to
the filing of the original petition for dependency-neglect
that demonstrate that placement of the children in the
custody of the parent is contrary to their health, safety, or
welfare and that, despite the offer of appropriate family
services, the parent has manifested the incapacity or
indifference to remedy the subsequent issues or factors or
rehabilitate the parent's circumstances that prevent the
placement of the children in the custody of the parent.
See also Arnold v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs.,
2019 Ark.App. 300, 578 S.W.3d 329. In ruling from the bench,
the circuit court stated that it did not know whether the
problem was Crawford's incapacity or her lack of
motivation to fix the situation that was preventing the
return of the children to her custody. The circuit court
stated that, since her children's removal, Crawford had
been rearrested and had tested positive for drugs, and she
initially testified at the termination hearing that she would
not test positive for drugs but ultimately admitted that she
had taken an illegal drug the previous day.
novo review of this record amply supports the finding in the
termination order that DHS proved the
subsequent-other-factors ground. The children had been
removed in September 2016 from their grandmother's
custody, given that Crawford was incarcerated. A
psychological examination revealed that Crawford has an
extremely low IQ; that her drug of choice was marijuana, but
she also used cocaine; that she had never had drug treatment;
that she has emotional issues including bipolar disorder, for
which she should attend counseling and be medicated; and that
her visitation should be supervised. Over the next two years,
services were provided to Crawford, and she intermittently
attempted to work the case plan, but she was in and out of
prison, she left her mental-health issues and drug-abuse
issues untreated, she failed to maintain employment, and she
visited her children at times but not consistently.
termination hearing was conducted in March 2019 at which time
the children ranged in age from thirteen to three, and they
had been out of Crawford's custody approximately two and
a half years. Over the course of this DHS case, Crawford
tested positive several times for amphetamines and
methamphetamine and once for THC. Since the case had been
open, Crawford has been incarcerated for approximately 280
days in three different states, she had moved residences at
least ten times, DHS had no information on Crawford's
current residence, and she had not maintained a steady job.
Crawford had long-standing substance-abuse issues, and she
had significant emotional problems for which she needed
counseling that she did not attend. Crawford had not visited
her children at all since October 2018. Crawford had another
baby, but he was presently living with a relative. Crawford
stated that she was moving again soon to another apartment.
short, DHS's evidence showed that after all this time,
Crawford lacked the stability that the children needed.
Crawford was unwilling or unable to face her mental-health
and substance-abuse issues, to stay out of criminal trouble,
or to be the parent that her children need. The circuit court