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In re K.F.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 6, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF K.F., K.F., AND J.F., Minor Children, K.F., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W. Seidlin, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights to his three children. AFFIRMED.

          Charles E. Isaacson of Charles Isaacson Law P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary K. Wickman, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          ConGarry D. Williams of State Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, Judge.

         A father appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights to his three children: Ky.F., born in 2015; Kn.F., born in 2014; and J.F., born in 2012. He argues the court erred in terminating his parental rights because there was insufficient proof termination was in the children's best interests. Upon our de novo review, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         This family first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in 2014, after Kn.F. was born with THC, methadone, and opiates in his cord blood, resulting in a founded child abuse assessment. In February 2015, the mother consented to the removal of J.F. and Kn.F. from her custody due to her ongoing drug abuse. The court placed the children with their father. The juvenile court adjudicated J.F. and Kn.F. children in need of assistance (CINA) and continued their removal from their mother's custody and their placement with their father. The court ordered the father not to allow contact between the children and their mother, who was a risk to the children's safety due to her continued use of various drugs.

         In May, the mother and father had another baby, who was also born with opiates and THC in his cord blood. The court entered a temporary removal order removing Ky.F. from the mother's custody and placing the child with the father. Later that month, the State filed a CINA petition on behalf of Ky.F. Ky.F. was adjudicated CINA, and placement with the father and Ky.F.'s two siblings was continued. Per DHS recommendation, the mother was only allowed to have supervised visits with her children due to her continued substance abuse.

         In August 2015, concerns arose that the father was allowing the mother to have unsupervised visits with the children. A safety plan was created to allow the children to remain in the father's care and ensure there would be no unsupervised contact between the children and their mother. Almost immediately the father violated the safety plan, and the children were removed from his custody. The court placed the children with relatives of the father, and they have remained in this placement.

         In February 2016, the State filed a petition to terminate both parents' parental rights. The court held a hearing on the petition in April. Thereafter, the court ordered termination of the mother's parental rights but dismissed the termination petition with regard to the father. Although the court found the State had proved a ground for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2016) by clear and convincing evidence with regard to all three children, the court determined termination was not in the children's best interests because there was not clear and convincing evidence the father and mother had continued their "toxic and manipulative" relationship. The court noted the father was "participating in substance-abuse treatment and therapy, " "taking his prescribed medication, " and "exercising his visitation on a more consistent basis." Based on these facts, the court gave the father an additional six months for continued reunification efforts with his children. The court set the following goals for the father: complete substance-abuse treatment and refrain from using drugs or alcohol; actively participate in individual therapy; manage his medications; have no intentional contact with the mother or allow the children to have contact with their mother; and exercise visitation with the children as per DHS and Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) recommendations. In the following months, the father denied any contact with the mother; however, they conceived another child together.[1]

         In February 2017, the court held a combined permanency review and termination hearing regarding the father's parental rights. Following the hearing, the court terminated the father's parental rights due to him not ...


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