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In the Interest of L.R.V.

April 24, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF L.R.V., MINOR CHILD, J.V., MOTHER, APPELLANT, K.K. AND J.V., GRANDPARENTS, APPELLANTS.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Angela L. Doyle, District Associate Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tabor, J.

A mother challenges the juvenile court's order terminating parental rights to her daughter. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

Jessica challenges a juvenile court's order terminating parental rights to her ten-year-old daughter, L.V. She contends insufficient evidence supports the court's best-interest finding. Since L.V. began living with her father, she has substantially improved in all aspects of her life and has developed a strong relationship with him. Because the record shows the bond between Jessica and L.V. is deteriorating due to Jessica's refusal to address her substance addiction, we agree termination is in L.V.'s best interest and affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

L.V. is the daughter of Jessica and Anthony. Before L.V. turned three, she began living with Jessica's parents, who lived a few houses away. The girl has not resided with her mother since. While L.V. lived with her grandparents, Jessica would often visit her. Anthony paid child support and spent time with L.V as well.

Jessica has a history of methamphetamine use. In September 2010, a juvenile court terminated Jessica's parental rights to two other daughters, based on substance abuse and domestic violence.

Anthony has a history of alcohol abuse and has pled guilty to operating while intoxicated (OWI) on three occasions. His third offense was three years ago, and he claims to no longer have dependency issues. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) records corroborate his claim.

On August 5, 2011, DHS received a report that Jessica kicked L.V. in the thigh. L.V. told one worker the blow caused a reddish-purple bruise that lasted three days. According to the report, Jessica also used methamphetamine in L.V.'s presence. Jessica also had charges pending following a drug raid, where officers found methamphetamine and a digital scale in her purse.

Jessica agreed to undergo a substance abuse evaluation. The evaluator noted Jessica behaved like she was under the influence of a substance, refused to provide a urine sample, had needle marks on her arms, and was "filthy." The evaluator recommended L.V. be removed from Jessica's custody. The court temporarily placed L.V. with Anthony.

In an August 23, 2011 removal hearing, all parties except Jessica agreed L.V. should remain in Anthony's custody.*fn1 On October 11, 2011, all parties stipulated and the juvenile court adjudicated L.V. to be a child in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code sections 232.2(6)(c)(2) and 232.2(6)(n) (2011). Over the next year, Jessica periodically visited L.V., but would not acknowledge using drugs.

On October 25, 2012, the juvenile court held a hearing to address permanency for L.V. and the State's petition to terminate Jessica's parental rights. Jessica did not attend the hearing.*fn2 The court received exhibits and heard testimony from Anthony, social worker Lindsay Davis, and service provider Suzanne Elberg. L.V.'s guardian ad litem recommended the court terminate Jessica's rights and place L.V. in Anthony's care.

On November 12, 2012, the juvenile court found the State proved grounds to terminate Jessica's parental rights to L.V. under sections 232.116(1)(g) and 232.116(1)(l).*fn3 The court also found termination was in L.V.'s best interest, which would be further served by transferring full custody to Anthony. Jessica ...


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