Q: Can a termination of parental rights stand if there is insufficiency of process services?
A: As is so often the case in legal matters, it depends. Arkansas law, like that of many states, takes the obligation to serve a responding party quite seriously, and failure to serve can be a basis for reversal on appeal. However, Arkansas’ appellate courts are also strict about the circumstances under which they will consider an argument on appeal. For instance, in several cases over the years, parents who lost their parental rights and argued on appeal that they were not properly served were not allowed to advance those arguments because they had not made them in circuit court. So, if there was no service made but the parent showed up and didn’t object, an appeal based on this issue Is less likely to lead to a reversal than if, say, no service was made and the parent showed up but objected to lack of service or no service was made and the parent did not appear at all due to lack of notice.
Even in the latter circumstances, this might be something to consider addressing by post-trial motion as opposed or in addition to an appeal. Consider contacting an Arkansas appellate lawyer soon.
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