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In re K.C.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 20, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF K.C., Minor Child, T.C., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Jane F. Spande, District Associate Judge.

A father appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights.

Christopher J. Foster of Foster Law Office, Iowa City, for appellant father.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, David Thompson, County Attorney, and Jo Nelson, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Troy Powell of the Powell Law Firm, Cedar Rapids, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

DOYLE, P.J.

The father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, K.C. He contends the State did not meet its burden to prove the ground for termination, and he argues the child's best interests weigh against termination. He also asserts Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(a) (2013) applied to avoid termination of his parental rights. Upon our de novo review, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Both parents have a history of involvement with illegal drugs and substance abuse. The parents are not married but lived together for a short period of time after K.C. was born in September 2011. After an incident between the parents in March 2012 involving domestic violence, the father moved out, returning to Indiana to live with his mother.

In August 2012, it was reported to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) the mother was using methamphetamine and synthetic marijuana, and the child was removed from her care and placed with the child's maternal grandmother. The father was contacted in Indiana thereafter by DHS, and he expressed an interest in caring for the child to the DHS worker. However, the worker had concerns about placing the child in the father's care because she had learned the father had pending criminal charges against him, both in Indiana—a felony theft charge in June 2012 involving precursors to the manufacturer of methamphetamine—and in Iowa—a domestic-abuse-assault charge from the March 2012 incident between the parents.

The child was subsequently adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA), to which the parents both stipulated. Among other things, the juvenile court ordered a home study of the father's residence in Indiana.

The case goal was reunification of the child with the parents. Services were offered to that end to both parents, with the father having scheduled visits with the child when the father could return to Iowa. At those visits, the father also provided urine samples for scheduled drug testing, all of which were negative.

The Indiana home study was completed in January 2013, and the report did not recommend placement of the child with the father. It noted the father had been arrested in Indiana approximately nine times, and several of the arrests concerned possession of items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. In 2004, the father was convicted of illegal possession of anhydrous ammonia, and in 2008, he was found guilty of purchasing more than three grams of a precursor to manufacture methamphetamine. Several of his arrests resulted in felony convictions. The report noted the father's most recent arrest in June 2012 was for theft of lithium batteries, another item known for use in manufacturing methamphetamine. Although the report noted the father "obviously cares very much for his daughter and . . . is very distressed not to be with her, " the report ...


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