Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re D.N.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF D.N. and N.N., Minor Children, L.S., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals from a juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          MaryBeth A. Fleming of MaryBeth Fleming Law Office, P.C., Dubuque, for appellant mother.

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

          William A. Lansing of William A. Lansing, P.C., Dubuque, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals from a juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights to her two children: D.N., born in June 2010, and N.N., born in March 2016. The mother argues termination is not in the children's best interests because she shares a bond with them. She further argues the juvenile court should have granted her request for an additional six months to work toward reunification.

         This family has a history of involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) dating back to at least January 2007, when one of the mother's older children tested positive for illegal drugs.[1] D.N. has also tested positive for illegal drugs in the past. In 2013, the juvenile court adjudicated D.N. a child in need of assistance (CINA). The parents cooperated with services, regained custody of D.N., and the CINA case was closed in 2014. DHS became involved with the family again in March 2016 shortly before N.N. was born due to concerns the father was using illegal drugs while caring for D.N. In April, the juvenile court removed the children from the parents' care and custody due to the parents' continued drug use, mental-health issues, and violation of the safety plan in place at the time. The children have remained out of their parents' care since that time. The juvenile court adjudicated both children CINA in June 2016. In April 2017, the State filed a petition for termination of the parents' rights.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(l) (2017) as to both children, paragraph (f) as to D.N., and paragraph (h) as to N.N.[2] We review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo. In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016). "We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, but we do give them weight, especially in assessing the credibility of witnesses." Id. (quoting In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014)). Our primary consideration is the best interests of the child. In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006).

         The mother does not challenge the statutory grounds for termination on appeal; thus, we do not address this issue. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010) (stating that when a parent does not challenge the existence of statutory grounds, we need not address the issue). Instead, she contends termination is not in the children's best interests because she shares a strong bond with them.

         In determining whether termination of a parent's parental rights is in children's best interests, we "give primary consideration to the child[ren]'s safety, to the best placement for furthering the long-term nurturing and growth of the child[ren], and to the physical, mental, and emotional condition and needs of the child[ren]." Iowa Code § 232.116(2). "Insight for the determination of the child's long-range best interests can be gleaned from 'evidence of the parent's past performance for that performance may be indicative of the quality of the future care that parent is capable of providing.'" In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 778 (Iowa 2012) (quoting In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 495 (Iowa 2000)). Under Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(c), the juvenile court need not terminate the parental relationship if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the termination would be detrimental to the child due to the closeness of the parent-child bond.

         The mother has a lengthy history of substance abuse. She has continued to struggle with establishing and maintaining sobriety in the underlying CINA case, having tested positive for illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, benzodiazepine, and marijuana, numerous times throughout the case. Although the mother progressed to exercising partially supervised extended and overnight visits with her children in the fall of 2016, by November, the mother had relapsed and lost her housing. Throughout the next two months the mother heavily used drugs with the children's father, did not cooperate with services, and did not consistently attend visits with her children. In late February 2017, the mother was committed to the hospital to participate in inpatient substance-abuse treatment. At the time of the termination hearing, the mother had maintained sobriety for just over two months. However, her success was due to the fact that she was in treatment during that time and was still residing at a treatment facility at the time of the hearing.

         The mother has participated in fifteen substance-abuse treatment programs over the past decade and has been unable to demonstrate any ability to maintain sobriety outside of these structured programs. The record also shows the mother has untreated mental-health issues. She has refused to cooperate with counseling, medication management, or otherwise participate in any meaningful mental-health treatment. The mother's issues with substance abuse and mental health were present when her parental rights were terminated to her three oldest children and have continued to have a detrimental impact on the two children involved ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.