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In re W.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF W.G., Minor Child, J.G., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

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

          Eric W. Manning of Manning Law Office, P.L.L.C., Urbandale, for appellant father.

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

          Lynn M. Vogan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, W.G., born in October 2015. His primary assertion on appeal is that he should be given an additional six months to progress to reunification with W.G. However, because the father has been incarcerated for most of the time since W.G. was removed from the home, he has made little progress in advancing towards reunification, and the earliest he could be paroled would be in April 2018, we affirm the termination of the father's parental rights.

         W.G. came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) on July 26, 2016, on the allegation the mother and the father left W.G.- then just ten months old-and a two-year-old half-sibling alone for an unknown period of time. The father was using, as well as selling, drugs in the home.[1]Drug paraphernalia, including spoons with methamphetamine residue and needles, was found in various places in the house and was accessible to the unattended small children. In a subsequent interview, the father admitted he had been using methamphetamine for several months, and W.G. tested positive for methamphetamine after his removal. The father was arrested on various charges on July 26, 2016.[2] He pled guilty to four counts of forgery and one count of prescription drug violation on October 18, 2016. Although released on October 27, 2017, to enter a substance abuse program, he was rearrested on November 17 for failure to return to jail. He was reincarcerated in March 2017 on two counts of violating his probation and on new charges including burglary and interference with official acts; a twenty-two-year prison term was imposed.

         After a May 22, 2017 contested hearing, at which the father testified telephonically from prison, the district court terminated the father's parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (h) (2017).

         We review termination proceedings de novo, giving weight but not being bound by the district court's fact findings. In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).

         Before we address the merits of the father's appeal, we must determine whether the district court erred in proceeding with the termination hearing when the father had not been served with notice of the hearing as required in Iowa Code section 232.112, which provides:

1. [Parents] shall be necessary parties to a termination of parent-child relationship proceeding and are entitled to receive notice and ...

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