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In re J.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF J.S. and R.D., Minor Children, A.S., Mother, Appellant, R.D., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Paul G. Crawford, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father appeal separately from the order terminating their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Breanna M. Nelson of Grimes, Buck, Schoell, Beach & Hitchins, Marshalltown, for appellant mother.

          Jennie L. Wilson-Moore of Wilson Law Firm, Marshalltown, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and David M. Van Compernolle, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Mary Cowdrey of State Public Defender's Office, Marshalltown, for minor children.

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

          BOWER, Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights. The mother claims she received deficient notice concerning the termination hearing and exceptions should have been applied to preclude termination. The father claims he should have been granted an extension of time and exceptions should have been applied. We find the termination of the mother's rights was not precluded by failure to give proper statutory notice, the father should not be granted an extension of six months, and no exceptions should be applied to either party. We affirm the juvenile court's termination of parental rights.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         J.S. was born in July 2011, and R.D. was born in October 2012.[1] The children were brought to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) due to the mother's inability to properly supervise the children. During DHS's assessment, the mother assaulted the maternal grandmother in front of the children. A no-contact order was issued and the children were placed in the care of the maternal grandmother. A child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition was filed for both children and both the mother and father stipulated to the petition. The mother was uninvolved during much of the CINA and termination proceedings and did not contact her attorney between the CINA adjudication and the dispositional hearing.

         A permanency hearing was held February 25, 2016, at which neither the father nor mother appeared. The parents' attorneys reported they had had no contact with either parent. After a DHS worker testified neither parent had responded to telephone calls or letters seeking their involvement in services offered to improve parenting and address mental-health and substance-abuse concerns, a petition for termination of parental rights was filed.

         The mother entered substance-abuse treatment in Waterloo, but was unsuccessfully discharged. She then participated in outpatient treatment in Marshalltown and worked part time while living at a Youth and Shelter Services facility. The mother missed a small number of drug tests and admitted to a relapse a few weeks prior to the termination hearing. During the period of her relapse she admitted to visiting the children but testified she did not feel under the influence at the time of the visit. The mother also tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana near the time of the termination hearing.

         The father testified he had previously used methamphetamine two or three times a week, but he had not used the drug since December 2015. He also testified the extent of his interaction with R.D. in the year leading up to the termination hearing was about four hours total. Between January and March 2016, he stopped by the maternal grandmother's house four or five times and talked with R.D. for ten to fifteen minutes on each occasion. He testified he stopped visiting because he felt uncomfortable at the ...


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