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In re L.V.A.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 6, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF L.V.A., Minor Child, H.V.A., Father, Appellant.

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

A father appeals termination of his parental rights.

John C. Heinicke of Kragnes & Associates, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

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

Nancy Trotter, Des Moines, for mother.

Paul White of Juvenile Public Defender, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

MULLINS, J.

A father appeals termination of her parental rights to a son, L.V.A., under Iowa Code sections 232.116(1)(d), (g), and (h) (2013). He argues the State failed to show sufficient evidence to terminate and termination was not in the child's best interests because of the bond with the father.

I. Facts and Background Proceedings.

L.V.A. came to the court's attention in December 2012, shortly after he was born. At the time, the mother was contesting a petition to terminate her parental rights to another child, P.I.N., L.V.A.'s toddler half-sister. The

Department of Human Services (DHS) got involved with the family in May 2012 when neighbors called police to intervene as the mother and father were fighting in their home. Upon arriving, police officers noticed the mother and father showed physical signs of intoxication and methamphetamine use. The home was in an extremely unsanitary and unsafe state with excess clutter, garbage and rotting food everywhere; many cats were in the house with cat feces present everywhere and a strong smell of cat urine; in a back room officers discovered evidence of methamphetamine and marijuana use. The father was charged with domestic abuse assault on May 28, 2012 and pled guilty to assault.

After P.I.N. was removed, the parents continued to struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues. The mother has a history of methamphetamine addiction and the father of alcohol abuse and addiction. The mother's parental rights to P.I.N. were terminated on January 30, 2013.[1] The mother told DHS workers that she had consumed alcohol while she was pregnant with L.V.A. and had been hospitalized for consuming poison while pregnant.

After L.V.A. was born in December 2012, DHS petitioned for and the court granted removal when he was just three days old. DHS filed a child in need of assistance petition on December 14, 2012. On January 3, 2013, the juvenile court placed L.V.A. with his paternal aunt and uncle, ...


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