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In re S.M.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF S.M., D.M., and B.M., Minor Children, B.M., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Stephen A. Owen, District Associate Judge.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child.

Bart K. Klaver of Thornton, Coy & Huss, P.L.L.C., Ames, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Stephen Holmes, County Attorney, and Thomas Kunstle, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Gerald Moothart of Moothart Law Office, Ames, for mother.

Daniela Matasovic, Ames, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

BOWER, J.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his three children. He contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. He also contends his parental rights should not be terminated because the children are in their mother's care.

Because clear and convincing evidence establishes the father has abandoned his children, the grounds for termination have been proved. We also find termination is in the children's best interests. Accordingly, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

The children at issue ranged in age from twelve-years-old to five-years-old at the time of the termination hearing. They were removed from the father's care in December 2011 due to the father's methamphetamine use, some of which allegedly occurred in front of the children. The father refused to submit to drug testing at that time, and the children were placed in their mother's care.

The father has failed to participate in the services offered to him. Following the children's removal, he submitted to one drug test, which showed marijuana and methamphetamine use. The father then failed to participate in drug testing thirty-one times. The father participated in some supervised visits offered to him, although the juvenile court termed this participation to be "dismal at best" with the father frequently calling to cancel with little advance notice, often arriving late, and shortening the visits. His last visit with the children was on April 19, 2012; the father shortened the visit from two hours to one hour after arriving fifteen minutes late.

Since the April 19, 2012 visit, the father has had no contact with the children. He failed to appear at the August 2012 review hearing, the January 2013 dispositional hearing, the March 2013 permanency hearing, or the April 2013 termination hearing. Although he contacted the Department of Human Services in January 2013 to inquire about re-engaging in services, he failed to ...


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