IN THE INTEREST OF M.H. and V.H., Minor children, K.H., Father, Petitioner-Appellee, A.H., Mother, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Kossuth County, Ann M.
Gales, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights
under Iowa Code chapter 600A. AFFIRMED.
A. Wingert of Wingert Law Office, Spirit Lake, for appellant
Wesley, pro se appellee father.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.
mother appeals from the district court's order
terminating her parental rights to her two children, M.H. and
V.H., now ages six and seven, respectively. The
children's father initiated this action in April 2015.
conduct a de novo review of termination proceedings under
chapter 600A. See In re C.A.V., 787 N.W.2d 96, 99
(Iowa Ct. App. 2010). We defer to the factual findings of the
district court, especially witness-credibility findings, but
we are not bound by them. See In re G.A., 826 N.W.2d
125, 127 (Iowa Ct. App. 2012). In termination proceedings,
the best interests of the children involved are "the
paramount consideration, " but we also give "due
consideration" to the interests of the children's
parents. See Iowa Code § 600A.1 (2015). The
termination findings must be based on clear and convincing
proof. Iowa Code § 600A.8.
a two-day hearing in September 2015, the court terminated the
mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section
600A.8(3)(b) and (9). On appeal, the mother only
challenges the court's determination there was clear and
convincing evidence to terminate her rights under section
600A.8(3)(b). Because the mother does not challenge the
statutory grounds pursuant to section 600A.8(9), she has
waived any claim of error regarding that statutory ground for
termination. See Hyler v. Garner, 548 N.W.2d 864,
870 (Iowa 1996) ("[O]ur review is confined to those
propositions relied upon by the appellant for reversal on
appeal."); see also In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d489,
492 (Iowa 2000) ("We have long recognized an appellant
must identify alleged error on appeal."). Thus, we find
the statutory grounds for terminating have been met pursuant
to section 600A.8(9). See In re Voeltz, 271 N.W.2d
719, 723 (Iowa 1978) ("If one of these grounds is
established by clear and convincing evidence the termination
will be upheld.").
we consider whether the termination of the mother's
parental rights is in the children's best interests.
See In re J.L.W., 523 N.W.2d 622, 625 (Iowa Ct. App.
1994) ("Once we determine a ground for termination under
600A.8 has been established by clear and convincing evidence,
we must next determine whether it is in the child[ren]'s
best interests to order termination of parental
rights."). In doing so, we give "due
consideration" to the mother's interests.
See Iowa Code § 600A.1.
August 2012, both children were in the car when the mother,
while intoxicated, purposely ran over the father's foot
with the vehicle. As a result, the mother received a
one-year suspended sentence and lost her driving
privileges.The sentence was later imposed after the
mother's probation officer filed a report of probation
violation based on multiple driving-while-revoked charges.
The probation officer added three addendums to the report,
the first after the mother was charged with possession of
methamphetamine on October 18, 2013; the second after the
mother intentionally hit her then-boyfriend with a vehicle on
November 10; and the third after the mother arrived to a
meeting with her probation officer-two and a half hours
late-intoxicated on December 26.
part to the father's interference with the mother's
relationship with the children, but largely due to the
mother's continued poor choices, the mother has not seen
the children since Christmas Day, 2013, and she has not
spoken to them since September 23, 2014. According to the
district court, between August 2012 and June 2015, the mother
was "convicted of a total of eleven misdemeanor crimes,
including five aggravated misdemeanors, four serious
misdemeanors, and two simple misdemeanors. [The mother]
received at least twelve additional misdemeanor charges which
were dismissed as part of plea agreements." Between
August 2012 and the September 2015 termination hearing, the
mother was in and out of jail at least fifteen times, for a
total period of incarceration of approximately 360 days.
time of the termination hearing, the mother was living with a
new boyfriend who had been hospitalized more than once for
mental-health issues in the two months before the termination
hearing. The man had also just been arrested for harassment
involving his estranged wife. The mother denied having ever
used illegal drugs and denied having an issue with alcohol.
However, as the district court noted, the mother was arrested
for possession of methamphetamine, and at the time she was
arrested, she admitted to officers that she had used the
substance within two days. The mother had shown up late to
her probation meeting while drunk, and both the father and
the paternal grandmother testified the mother had shown up
for visits with the children appearing to be intoxicated a
acknowledge the father restricted the mother's chances to
see or be part of the children's lives as he saw fit. But
the mother took no actions to overcome the restrictions.
Although her parents hired her an attorney to pursue a
court-ordered custody agreement, the custody case was
ultimately dismissed. From the record before us, it appears
the mother failed to communicate with her attorney-possibly
due in part to repeated stints in jail. Additionally, a
number of the father's conditions are not unreasonable.
He had concerns the mother was living with an abusive
boyfriend-a fact the mother repeatedly shared on social
media, including bruises she claimed were a result of abuse.
He was also concerned about the mother's drug and ...