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In re A.V.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 23, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.V. and L.D., Minor Children, M.D., Father, Appellant, E.V., Mother, Appellant.

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

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

Lisa M. Noble of Van Cleaf & McCormack, Des Moines, for appellant-father. Sara E. Dewein of Howe, Cunningham, Lowe, & Kelso, P.L.C., Urbandale, for appellant-mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant County Attorney, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Andrea S. Vitzthum, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Charles Fuson of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

MULLINS, J.

A mother and father separately appeal from a juvenile court order terminating their respective parental rights to their children, A.V. and L.D. They each contend the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. They each also contend termination is not in the children's best interests. The father advocates the children be placed in the paternal grandmother's custody and the provisions of Iowa Code section 232.116(3) (2013) be applied to avoid termination of his parental righs.

Finding the requirements for terminating parental rights set out in section 232.116 have been met, we affirm the termination of both the mother's and the father's parental rights.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS.

A.V.H., born in 2010, and L.D., born in 2009, first came to the attention of the juvenile court in July 2012 after it was learned the mother's boyfriend was selling marijuana and heroin out of the family home. The mother and her boyfriend admitted using marijuana and heroin on a daily basis. As a result, the children were removed from the home and placed with the maternal grandfather. The State filed a child in need of assistance (CINA) petition.

The State could not initially locate the father, who was living in Florida and had not seen the mother in a year. Although the father was not present at the removal hearing, he was represented by counsel. The State served the father notice by certified mail on July 24, 2012. Thereafter, the father returned to Iowa to have contact with the children and participate in services.

Both the mother and the father were present at the September 6, 2012 adjudicatory hearing. On September 6, 2012, the juvenile court entered an order adjudicating the children to be CINA. The court found the mother and the father were participating in services and continued the children's placement with the maternal grandfather.

The mother participated in the services offered to her and initially made great improvements. By October 2012, she was no longer using heroin and had finished Suboxone treatment.[1] In a January 8, 2013 order, the juvenile court found the mother had "demonstrated a recovery lifestyle and shown insight into the problems that resulted in removal" and returned the children to her home for a trial placement. In the same order, the court found that although the father was participating in services, he had unresolved addiction, domestic ...


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