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In re B.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF B.W., M.W., and G.O., Minor Children, A.W., Mother, Appellant, I.W., Father of B.W. and M.W., Appellant, J.O., Father of G.O., Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F. Staudt, Judge.

         Parents appeal from the order terminating their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON ALL APPEALS.

          Andrew C. Abbott of Abbott Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant mother.

          Linda A. Hall of Linda Hall Law Firm & Mediation Services, P.L.L.C., Cedar Falls, for appellant father I.W.

          Joseph G. Martin of Swisher & Cohrt, PLC, Waterloo, for appellant father J.O.

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

          Michael J. Lanigan of Law Office of Michael Lanigan, Waterloo, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         The parents of three children appeal from the order terminating their respective parental rights. Joshua, father of G.O. (born 2008), contends the State failed to prove the statutory grounds authorizing termination of his parental rights. Ira, father of B.W. (born 2005) and M.W. (born 2007), contends the State failed to prove the statutory grounds authorizing termination of his parental rights. He also argues the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family, termination of his rights is not in the children's best interests, and he should be given another six months to work toward reunification. April, mother to all three children, contends the State failed to prove the statutory grounds authorizing termination of her parental rights. She also argues termination of her parental rights is not in the children's best interests.

         I.

         There are three children at issue. April and Ira are the parents of B.W. and M.W. April and Ira divorced in 2007. The decree dissolving their marriage afforded Ira regular visitation with the children, but Ira has not regularly exercised the visitation. Indeed, as will be discussed below, he has been largely absent from the children's lives. April and Joshua have been in a long-term relationship beginning some time before 2008, when G.O. was born. April and Joshua currently reside together.

         The Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) has been involved with the family[1]-April, Joshua, and the three children-since 2007. Between 2007 and the time of the termination hearing in late 2016, IDHS conducted fifteen separate investigations involving this family. One investigation resulted in a confirmed report of abuse, and six investigations resulted in founded reports. The primary concerns noted in the reports and assessments were the unsanitary condition of the family home, multiple instances of physical abuse of B.W., and April's failure to supervise the children. The three children were adjudicated children in need of assistance in October 2012, pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b) (addressing physical abuse of a child by a guardian) and (c)(2) (addressing the failure of a child's guardian to "exercise a reasonable degree of care in supervising the child") (2011).

         The children were removed from the home for the first time in April 2013. At that time, the parents were instructed the home would have to be cleaned and made safe before the children could be returned to their care. M.W. and G.O., but not B.W., were returned to the parents' care. However, the condition of the home began deteriorating almost immediately upon the children's return. The two children were removed from the parents' care in September 2015 due to methamphetamine use in the home. They have been placed in separate foster homes. IDHS required the parents to maintain an adequately clean home ...


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