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In re C.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 5, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF C.H. and F.H., Minor Children, C.H., Father, Appellant.

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

         A father appeals the order terminating his parental rights to his five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. AFFIRMED.

          Lynn C. Poschner of Borseth Law Office, Altoona, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Charles K. Phillips, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

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

          TABOR, Judge.

         A father, Chad, appeals the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights to his son, C.H., who was born in July 2011, and his daughter, F.H., who was born in October 2013. On appeal, Chad argues the State failed to prove the statutory grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1) (2016), termination was not in the children's best interests under section 232.116(2), and the juvenile court should have found a reason to preserve his parental rights under section 232.116(3)(a) or (c). After examining the matter anew, [1] we find clear and convincing evidence to support the juvenile court's findings.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Chad and Ashley had a volatile relationship, fraught with domestic violence and substance abuse. Together they had two children: C.H. and F.H. In April 2015, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) removed C.H. and F.H. from Ashley's care after receiving reports she had been abusing methamphetamine. At the time of removal, a civil protective order prevented Chad from having contact with Ashley.[2] Ashley had obtained the order in

         February 2015. Chad, who had an extensive criminal history, violated the order later that month by trying to pry open the door of Ashley's house after she changed the locks.[3] But by the time the juvenile court adjudicated the children in need of assistance (CINA) on May 26, 2015, the protective order had been lifted, and Chad and Ashley had gotten married.

         The DHS initially placed the children with their maternal great-aunt, but after she reported concerns about the arrangement, the DHS modified the placement to the children's paternal grandmother, Leann. Chad had daily visits with his children that Leann supervised. Upon DHS recommendation, Chad began attending individual therapy. Although he was initially consistent with therapy, in September 2015, Chad started missing appointments. Chad's therapist cautioned that Chad would be unable to meet his goals without more reliable attendance.

         The domestic-violence issues between Ashley and Chad persisted. In October 2015, Ashley moved out of the home she shared with Chad and began living at a domestic-violence shelter. At the review hearing that month, the juvenile court opined "any romantic relationship between [Chad and Ashley] is a clear impediment to reunification." But as evidenced by their regular reports of the abusive and harassing behavior of the other to the DHS, Chad and Ashley continued to have contact. More than once, each applied for no-contact orders against the other and then failed to attend the scheduled court hearing in the matter. In December 2015, Ashley was arrested for domestic-abuse assault after Chad reported that she had run him over with her vehicle.

         Chad faced legal difficulties of his own. From January to July 2016, he was incarcerated at the Polk County jail for driving while his license was barred. While Chad was incarcerated, concerns regarding Chad's history of domestic abuse and controlling behavior began to mount. Chad placed more than 300 calls to Leann and Ashley while he was in jail. After Chad's release to the Fort Des Moines Men's Facility in July, he called a former paramour repeatedly until she ...


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