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In re Q.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 2, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF Q.G. and W.G., Minor Children, A.P., Mother Petitioner-Appellee, B.G., Father, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hancock County, Karen Kaufman Salic, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights in a private termination action.

          Grant C. Gangestad of Gourley, Rehkemper, & Lindholm, P.L.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Dani L. Eisentrager of Eisentrager Law, Eagle Grove, for appellee.

          Lynn Collins Seaba of Malloy Law Firm L.L.P., Goldfield, guardian ad litem for the minor child.

          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 under Iowa Code chapter 600A (2016). He does not contest the statutory grounds for termination were proven by clear and convincing evidence but instead argues (1) termination of his rights was not in the children's best interests and (2) the juvenile court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence. Upon our de novo review, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The parties were married in 2009. They have two children together: Q.G., born in January 2011, and W.G, born in December 2013. Immediately following Q.G.'s birth, both parents stayed home and cared for their child. After a few months, the mother returned to work, but the father stayed home and continued to provide care for the child. Eventually, the father returned to seasonal work for a few months in October 2011.

         In November 2011, when Q.G. was only ten months old, the father started using methamphetamine. He later testified he began to distance himself from Q.G. and spend as little time at home and around the mother as possible. The father continued to regularly use drugs-including methamphetamine, prescription pills, and marijuana-over the next few years and even after W.G. was born. The father testified he received the drugs from his friend without charge and also admitted he sold drugs for the friend.

         The father worked seasonally in 2012 and 2013 and only worked for a very brief period in 2014. Despite the father's limited employment during this time, the children attended daycare so the father could use drugs during the day.

          The father also admitted he wanted the children to attend daycare so that the mother would be required to pick the children up after work and return home rather than stay at work. The mother testified the father did not perform any childcare duties after 2011 because he was not around the family in the evenings. Instead, she was responsible for preparing meals for the family, doing the laundry, and bathing the children and putting them to bed when she got home from work.

         In late December 2014, the father was arrested for incidents occurring on two separate occasions that month, including one incident in which both children witnessed the father attempting to strangle the mother and another incident that involved the father breaking a light bulb, pushing the mother to the ground while she was holding one-year-old W.G., and then proceeding to choke her. The mother reported these events to the local sheriff's office, which documented her injuries. The mother also contacted the local police, who found methamphetamine and weapons in the parties' home when they searched it. The father pled guilty to two counts of domestic abuse assault (strangulation), one count of child endangerment, and one count of possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) as a result of these incidents. The father also pled guilty to the federal criminal charge of unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm ...


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