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In re A.F.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.F., Minor Child, Z.F., Father, Appellant, G.W., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Constance C. Cohen, Associate Juvenile Judge.

A mother and father separately appeal from the termination of their parental rights.

Andrew J. Tullar of Tullar Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant father.

Laura J. Lockwood of Tagtow & Lockwood, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Stephanie Brown, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

John Jellineck of the Juvenile Public Defender Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

POTTERFIELD, J.

A mother and a father of a ten-month old child separately appeal from the termination of their parental rights. Because statutory grounds for termination exist, permanency is in the child's best interests, and a six-month extension is not warranted under the circumstances, we affirm.

The mother voluntarily consented to the child's removal in August 2012, and the child was placed with his paternal grandmother. The father had been arrested for a domestic assault upon the mother, and the mother was homeless and unable to care for the two-month-old infant. A no contact order kept the father from visiting with the child until the protective order was lifted in September 2012.

On September 19, 2012, the child was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) following an uncontested hearing. A November 15 dispositional hearing was also uncontested and resulted in the continued placement of the child with the grandmother. The parents were not consistently complying with services and had missed many visits and appointments with their child.

A review hearing was held on January 10, 2013. The juvenile court noted the parents were doing a better job of engaging in services, but needed to demonstrate consistency and growth.

The mother's engagement with services thereafter declined, she had stopped taking medications for depression due to funding issues, and was not attending therapy. The father did not consistently participate in services after the review hearing. He had not addressed his previous domestic violence. He had not yet resumed batterer's education program (BEP), claiming a lack of funds to participate. The parents also failed to attend doctor appointments and arrived only after a scheduled medical procedure for their child. The parents were living with another person in housing they admitted was not appropriate for their child.[1]

A petition to terminate parental rights was filed on February 5 and the termination trial was held on March 28 and April 10, 2013. At the trial, the mother reported that she and the father had moved in with another family (a mother, her adult son, and her minor child). They were not required to pay rent. She testified, "[W]e would like a little bit more time to get our apartment and be on steady ground." She stated she was working part-time cleaning houses. She acknowledged inconsistency in attending the one supervised visit per week the parents had with their child, failure to attend consistently and to complete parenting classes, that the bond with her child was "not . . . complete the way as much as it should be, " and that she had unresolved mental ...


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