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 R.T.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF R.T., Minor Child, R.T., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Julie A. Schumacher, Judge.

         An incarcerated father appeals an order terminating his parental relationship with his four-year-old son.

          Theresa Rachel of Fankhauser Rachel, P.L.C., Sioux City, for appellant father.

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

          Joseph W. Kertels of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         An incarcerated father, Roel, appeals the termination of his parental relationship with his four-year-old son, R.T. He argues the State failed to offer clear and convincing proof of the elements under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(i) (2017). After an independent review of the record, [1] we agree the State did not meet its burden. Accordingly, we reverse the termination order and remand for further proceedings.[2]

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Authorities removed R.T. from his mother's care on July 22, 2016, after she acted erratically at a convenience store in Sloan, Iowa. Police found the then-three-year-old child in the mother's car amid piles of discarded food, clothing, and dirty diapers. Police arrested the mother for child endangerment. Roel, who was not married to R.T.'s mother but had been involved with her for many years, was in jail awaiting sentencing on unrelated charges at the time of R.T.'s adjudication as a child in need of assistance (CINA). Roel has remained incarcerated in Nebraska for the entirety of this child-welfare case and expected to be released on January 1, 2018.[3]

         The DHS placed R.T. in foster care with his paternal uncle and aunt, who immediately took the child for medical and dental checkups. The guardian ad litem (GAL) submitted a July 29, 2016 report from the pediatrician who found the child was "well nourished." The GAL also submitted a report from the dental office. R.T.'s dental surgeon found twelve of the child's twenty teeth had cavities, causing R.T. considerable pain. Four teeth needed crowns, two needed fillings, and six needed to be extracted due to the size of the cavity or infection. R.T. required general anesthesia for the comprehensive dental treatments in early August 2016. Because R.T.'s front teeth were extracted, he had to use a pediatric partial denture to help him speak and eat. The surgeon opined the amount of infection and extent of decay indicated R.T.'s "cavities had been present for an extended period of time and should have been noted and addressed much sooner than they were."

         R.T. remained in the care of his paternal uncle and aunt through the duration of the CINA case, by all accounts integrating well into their busy household. Although he was incarcerated, Roel took advantage of parenting classes, as well as substance-abuse and mental-health treatment offered by the Nebraska Department of Corrections. R.T. had sporadic telephone contact with Roel during the pendency of the case, and Roel sent letters to R.T. But the DHS did not offer Roel any in-person visitation with his son.

         Roel requested that the State provide reasonable efforts toward reunification with R.T., "including phone calls, letters, and in-person visits at the prison." In response, on November 18, 2016, the State asked the juvenile court to waive its requirement to provide reasonable efforts as to both the mother and father. See Iowa Code § 232.102(12) (permitting court to waive the reasonable-efforts requirement if it "determines by clear and convincing evidence that aggravated circumstances exist, " which include a finding the circumstances under section 232.116(1)(i) have been satisfied). The district court declined to find aggravated circumstances warranting waiver. Still, the DHS did not offer Roel visitation with R.T.[4]

         On January 18, 2017, the State filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both the mother and father. The paternal grandparents and a paternal aunt filed motions to intervene in the termination proceedings. The juvenile court addressed the motions to intervene at the ...


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.