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In re J.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF J.A., Minor Child, J.S., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child.

          Darius P. Robinson of Stumme, Collins, Gritters & Epley, P.L.L.C., Waverly, for appellant father.

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

          Linnea N. Nicol of Juvenile Public Defender Office, Waterloo, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, born in 2015. He contends (1) the State failed to prove the grounds for termination cited by the district court, (2) the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify him with his child, and (3) termination was not in the child's best interests.

         I. Grounds for Termination

         The district court terminated the father's parental rights on several grounds. We may affirm the decision if we find clear and convincing evidence to support termination under any of the cited grounds. In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999). On our de novo review, we find evidentiary support for Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2017), which requires proof of several elements, including proof the child cannot be returned to the parent's custody.

         The child was born prematurely with marijuana in his system. He remained hospitalized for several months. The department of human services offered the parents voluntary services to address their substance abuse issues and the mother's mental health.[1] The father declined to participate. Six months after the department initiated these services, the father was arrested on a parole violation. His parole was revoked, and he was incarcerated.

         The child was temporarily removed from the parents' care in 2016, based on the mother's substance abuse while parenting him. He was subsequently adjudicated in need of assistance. The child remained out of the father's care throughout the formal proceedings.

         At the hearing on the State's petition to terminate the father's parental rights, the father testified he was currently incarcerated at a correctional release center and had been there for approximately eleven months. He did not expect to discharge his twenty-five year sentence until 2021, and he was not slated to be considered for parole until September 2017. Although he had made housing and employment plans with the expectation that he would be paroled, he conceded he would need six months to prepare for return of the child.

         The State proved the statutory ground for termination set forth in ...


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