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In re R.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 19, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF R.L., Minor Child, M.O., Mother, Appellant, C.L., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan C. Cox, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal from the order terminating their parental rights.

          Jesse A. Macro of Macro & Kozlowski, L.L.P., West Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Tod J. Beavers, of Tod J. Beavers, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Joseph P. Vogel of Vogel Law, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         A mother and father separately appeal from the termination of their parental rights to their child, R.L. Both parents assert termination is not in R.L.'s best interests and Iowa Code section 232.116(3) (2017) exceptions apply to preclude the need for termination. Due to the parents' histories of substance abuse, and failure to engage in services and to demonstrate an ability to parent R.L., we conclude termination is in R.L.'s best interests and no section 232.116(3) exception applies. We therefore affirm.

         R.L. was born to the mother and father in December 2014. The parents are unmarried. The family came to the attention of the department of human services (DHS) in May 2015 when R.L. was admitted to the hospital for seizures caused by brain injuries consistent with child abuse. The incident resulted in a founded child-abuse assessment by DHS, noting the perpetrator was unknown. In June 2015, the mother and father both tested positive for THC. R.L. was removed from their care on June 29, 2015, and placed with his maternal grandmother.

         Both parents have extensive substance-abuse histories. The mother completed treatment during the pendency of this matter, but did not participate in aftercare and refused to submit to drug testing by patch. The father also completed outpatient substance-abuse treatment, but only attended continuing care for approximately one month. The father refused requested drug testing during this case and admitted to a relapse in June or July of 2016.

         The parents have a history of domestic violence. They were no longer in a relationship at the time of the termination hearing.

         In December 2016, the father was convicted of third-degree burglary and second-degree theft and was given a deferred judgment. However, the father was subsequently incarcerated due to an arrest for forgery. The father was incarcerated at the time of the termination hearing.

         Both parents demonstrated inconsistent participation in DHS services. The mother missed Family Safety, Risk and Permanency (FSRP) meetings, and did not consistently attend individual counseling. The father did not attend all scheduled interactions with R.L. and missed a number of FSRP meetings. The father discontinued participation in all DHS services in June 2016, stating he wished to voluntarily terminate his parental rights to R.L. The father ...


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