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In re K.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 2, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF K.W. and K.W., Minor Children D.W, Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

         A father challenges the termination of his parental rights to two children, ages two and five. AFFIRMED.

          Justin R. Wyatt of Woods & Wyatt, P.L.L.C., Glenwood, for appellant father.

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

          Vicki R. Danley, Sidney, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         A father, Dalton, appeals the juvenile court order[1] terminating his parental relationship with his two children-a son, Ko.W., born in 2011 and a daughter, Ky.W., born in 2014. Dalton asks us to reverse the termination order, alleging insufficient proof of the statutory grounds and a lack of reasonable efforts by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to allow the children's safe return to their father's care. Dalton also contends termination is not in the children's best interests. In the alternative, Dalton asks for an additional three to six months to reunify with his children.

         After independently reviewing the record, we reach the same conclusion as the juvenile court.[2] Dalton did not maintain significant and meaningful contact with his children and did not seek additional services from the DHS. Dalton's continued use of illegal drugs poses an ongoing risk to his children; therefore, termination of his parental rights is in their best interests. Finally, postponing permanency is not warranted on this record.

          I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Dalton admitted dealing methamphetamine out of the house where he lived with his two children (then ages four and one) in October 2015. In the five years leading up to that time, Dalton regularly used methamphetamine and had been under the influence of the drug while the children were in his care. The parents would ingest methamphetamine in the garage, leaving their young children alone in the house. After investigating the parents' conduct, the DHS entered a founded child abuse report for the denial of critical care and failure to provide proper supervision.

         The juvenile court adjudicated Ko.W. and Ky.W. as children in need of assistance (CINA) in January 2016. The court ordered the children removed from Dalton's care but allowed them to remain with their mother. In July 2016, the children were removed from their mother's care and placed with their paternal grandfather, where they remained for the duration of the case.

         The State filed a petition to terminate parental rights in January 2017. Two months later, the court held a termination hearing. Neither parent appeared personally, though attorneys represented them at the proceeding. The State presented its case only through exhibits and the juvenile court's judicial notice of the CINA proceedings. The DHS social worker reported her last contact with Dalton was in August 2016.

         On May 5, 2017, the juvenile court issued its order, finding grounds to terminate parental rights to the younger child based on Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2017) and to both children based on section 232.116(1)(e). ...


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