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.
Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for
appeal arises from the circuit courts 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 mothers 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 childrens 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
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. Crawfords
appellate argument is a procedural one, not substantive.
Crawfords argument is unconvincing.
Crawford 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. Dept 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, 2017 WL 4800467; Chaffin,
supra ; Am. States Ins. Co. v. Williams,
2010 Ark.App. 840, 2010 WL 5129958. "[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).
Termination 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. Dept 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, ...