IN THE INTEREST OF J.H., K.H., and K.A., Minor Children, J.L., Father of K.A., Appellant, A.A., Mother, Appellant, K.H., Father of J.H. and K.H., Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Wright County, Paul B.
Ahlers, District Associate Judge.
appeal from an order terminating their respective rights in
their children pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017).
AFFIRMED ON ALL APPEALS.
J. Kroona of Kroona Law Office, Webster City, for appellant
M. Sigmeth Roberts of Sigmeth Roberts Law, P.L.C., Clarion,
for appellant mother.
Douglas E. Cook of Cook Law Office, Jewell, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General for appellee State.
Barbara J. Westphal, Belmond, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
case arises out of a juvenile court proceeding severing the
parent-child relationship between three children and their
respective parents pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2017).
The mother of all three children, Annalease, and two of the
three fathers, James and Kory, appeal from the order
terminating their respective parental rights. On appeal, none
of the parents challenge the sufficiency of the evidence
supporting the statutory grounds authorizing the termination
of their parental rights. All three parents do challenge
whether the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) made
reasonable efforts to provide services facilitating
reunification of the family. James, in addition to
challenging reasonable efforts, requests six more months to
work toward reunification. Kory, in addition to challenging
reasonable efforts, contends he was prejudiced because the
juvenile court judge sentenced Kory to prison on unrelated
criminal matters twice during the pendency of this juvenile
review of termination-of-parental-rights proceedings is de
novo. See In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa
2016). Although our review is de novo, we do afford the
decision of the district court some deference for policy
reasons both institutional and pragmatic. See In re
M.J.W., No. 17-0149, 2017 WL 2665957, at *1 (Iowa Ct.
App. June 21, 2017). "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."
M.W., 876 N.W.2d at 219. Our primary consideration
is the children's best interest. See In re J.E.,
723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006).
not recite in any great detail the facts and circumstances
giving rise to this proceeding. The relevant facts and
circumstances are set forth in the juvenile court's
thorough and well-reasoned order terminating parental rights.
In sum, the family came to the attention of IDHS in July 2015
when Kory strangled Annalease and punched her in the stomach
while she was pregnant. The two older children were removed
from the home. Kory was incarcerated. When the third child,
K.A., was born, she tested positive for methamphetamine. Over
the life of the case, the parents have little ability and
little desire to care for the children.
ability because the parents have not demonstrated the
capacity to care for the children. Over the life of the case
each lacked stable housing and employment. Each had a long
history of substance abuse, untreated mental-health
conditions, and violent and criminal behavior. Each was
incarcerated during the course of these proceedings. At the
time of the termination hearing, Annalease was in prison for
assaulting a police officer, which was her fourth conviction
for assault during the pendency of this case, and James was
in prison for violating the sex-offender registry. There is
no evidence these parents can care for the children at issue.
desire because no parent demonstrated any interest in the
children. Annalease exercised few of the visitations offered
and did not see the children for eight months. Kory missed
significant time with his child due to his incarceration.
When he was not incarcerated, he exercised only nineteen of
fifty scheduled visits. James attended only six of thirty
scheduled visitations with his child and ...