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In re J.H.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 6, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF J.H. and S.H., Minor Children, T.H., Mother, Appellant, J.H., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

A mother and father appeal separately from the order terminating their parental rights.

Tammi M. Blackstone of Harrison & Dietz-Kilen, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant-mother.

Christopher R. Kemp of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for appellant-father.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Michelle Chenoweth, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

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

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

BOWER, J.

A mother[1] and father appeal separately from the order terminating their parental rights. The father contends the State did not prove one statutory ground for termination and termination is not in the children's best interests. We affirm.

When the children were removed in March 2012, the mother had just tried to commit suicide by driving her car into a bridge, and the father was incarcerated for domestic abuse assault against the mother. There also were concerns both parents were using methamphetamine. The children initially were placed with their maternal grandmother, but soon moved to foster care when the grandmother said she was not a long-term placement option.

During his incarceration, the father did not maintain contact with the children because he was informed the no-contact order in effect included the children. He participated in services addressing substance abuse and family violence while in prison. The father was released on parole in February 2013 and, at the time of the termination hearing, lived in a halfway house where he could not have the children.

The court terminated the parental rights of both parents under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d) (2013), (f) as to the older child, and (h) as to the younger child. Concerning the children's best interests, the court determined

it is in the best interest of these children that parental rights be terminated. The children need safety, stability. No parent has provided that for these children since these . . . cases opened in Spring 2012. There is not record or reason to believe that either parent will any time soon be at all able to provide a safe, stable, and progressive placement to meet these children's needs.

The court also determined no exception in section 232.116(3) "should rule the day and overturn the appropriate grounds statutorily and reasons ...


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