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In re J.J.-N.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 8, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF J.J.-N., J.J.-N., AND J.J.-N., Minor children, R.N.-E., Mother, Appellant, J.J., Father Appellant.

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

         A mother and father separately appeal from the order terminating their parental rights.

          Matthew R. Metzgar of Rhinehart Law, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant mother.

          Patrick T. Parry, Sioux City, for appellant father.

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

          Jessica Noll of Deck Law L.L.P., Sioux City, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         A mother and father separately appeal from the order terminating their parental rights. The mother argues termination was inappropriate because she should have been given an additional six months to work toward reunification. The father argues the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the circumstances leading to adjudication still exist and that the offer or receipt of services would correct the conditions that led to adjudication. In addition, he argues the court did not give primary consideration to the children's best interests.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The three children at issue were born in October 2010, November 2011, and December 2014. The mother and children came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in April 2015 on a report of methamphetamine use. The father was incarcerated at that time.

         The children were adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA) in June 2015 but were placed with the mother due to her participation at the Women and Children's Center. The mother participated with Family Treatment Court and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) in the summer of 2015. Throughout the fall of 2015 the mother worked with a parent partner and obtained employment. The mother also had mental-health issues, and it was recommended she participate in therapy. In October 2015, due to a lack of daycare, the mother indicated she would discontinue Family Treatment Court due to her work schedule. In December, she pleaded guilty to a felony in South Dakota and stopped participating in PCIT. She was encouraged to return to PCIT. The mother and children moved to Sanctuary Apartments, and the mother also completed a parenting class.

         At a dispositional hearing in May 2016, the court noted the mother was struggling with the children's behavior and was unmotivated to learn parenting skills. The mother also bought a car with a high monthly payment and requested funds from DHS to provide car seats for the children. The father was placed at a residential-treatment facility following his release from prison in the spring of 2016. The mother indicated she hoped to move in with the father following treatment.

         At the November 2016 dispositional hearing, the mother indicated she and the children were evicted from Sanctuary Apartments the preceding August due to nonpayment of rent and her housing assistance had been revoked. The mother and father admitted living together starting in August 2016. The mother also stopped working and failed to complete a substance-abuse evaluation. Both parents were on probation, and their probation officer reported neither was compliant with their probation requirements. At a family team meeting in October 2016, the court stressed to the parents the importance of completing services and complying with probation requirements. A modification hearing in January 2017 ultimately upheld the placement with the parents.[1] ...


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