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In re J.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF J.W., C.W., and W.W., Minor children, R.W., Father, Appellant, J.K., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda D. Belcher, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Jacob L. Mason of JL Mason Law, P.L.L.C., Ankeny, for appellant father. Jessica A. Millage of Millage Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kristi A. Traynor, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          ConGarry D. Williams, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children. Upon our review of the record, we agree the statutory grounds for termination were met and termination was in the children's best interest. Therefore, we affirm the termination of both the mother's and the father's parental rights.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         W.W., born March 2004; J.W., born November 2006; and C.W., born December 2008, came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in July 2015, upon allegations the parents were using drugs, the children were not being properly supervised, and the home was unsafe. Specifically, the DHS was concerned both parents were using methamphetamine and the parents were allowing the children to play outside unsupervised at all hours of the day, including late in the evening. There were multiple reports the children were nearly hit by vehicles while they were playing in the streets around the family home.

         On July 30, the children were removed from the home and placed with relatives, and after a contested removal hearing, the juvenile court approved the removal. The DHS offered services to the parents, including substance-abuse treatment, parenting classes, and therapy services. The father tested positive for methamphetamine in July, and although the mother did not test positive, she admitted to using methamphetamine with the father a week prior. After an initial round of substance evaluations, the father was recommended for substance-abuse treatment, but he did not attend. Both parents denied leaving their children unsupervised and refused the DHS's request that they attend parenting classes. The parents also resisted efforts by the children's school to engage the parents in therapy services and behavior interventions with the children.

         On September 22, the juvenile court adjudicated the children as children in need of assistance and modified their placement to different relatives. Following adjudication, both parents failed to comply with the DHS's request that they attend substance-abuse rehabilitation and provide drug screens. In December, the father was arrested for a probation violation and tested positive for methamphetamine. In March 2016, the parents were evicted from their home; they had not obtained permanent housing at the time of the termination hearing, despite assistance being offered by the DHS. Following a review hearing on March 29, 2016, the court ordered the mother and the father to provide a drug screen. The mother tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine, and marijuana; the father tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine. From April 2016 through September 2016, the parents again refused to participate in drug screens or substance-abuse treatment, as requested by the DHS. In May 2016, the parents attended one therapy session together, and the mother attended one individually, but they did not return.

         On September 1, after more than one year of offered services, the State filed a petition to terminate the mother's and the father's parental rights. The matter came on for contested hearing on November 1, 2016. On January 13, 2017, the juvenile court terminated both the mother's and the father's parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2016). Both the mother and father appeal.

         On appeal, neither the mother nor father contest the evidence to support the termination under section 232.116(1)(f). Rather, both claim the State failed to prove the statutory grounds for termination under section 232.116(1)(e) ...


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