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In re T.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 8, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF T.H. Jr., A.R., A.C., and A.K., Minor Child, R.K., Father, Appellant, T.H., Father, Appellant K.K., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Steven J. Holwerda, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and two fathers appeal the termination of their parental rights.

          Shane P. O'Toole, Des Moines, for appellant-father R.K.

          Jennie L. Wilson-Moore of Wilson Law Firm, for appellant-father T.H.

          Andrew Tullar of Tullar Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant-mother.

          Meegan M. Langmaid-Keller of Keller Law Office P.C., Altoona, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         K.K., the mother of four children-A.C., born 2005; A.R., born 2010; T.H. Jr., born 2014; and A.K., born 2015-appeals the termination of her parental rights. Two of the four fathers also appeal: T.H. appeals the termination of his rights to T.H. Jr., and R.K. appeals the termination of his rights to A.K.[1]

         The children were initially removed from the home in December 2015, after the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) was informed A.R., then four years of age, had set herself on fire, resulting in burns over twenty-one percent of her body. In addition, A.R. tested positive for methamphetamine. At the time, the mother was living with T.H., who was known to be abusive and an active drug user, which posed a threat to all the children. The children were returned to the mother a few months later but removed again on June 2, 2016, on allegations that inappropriate people were living in the home with access to the children, and that the mother was selling marijuana. The mother then tested positive for methamphetamine. On September 1, the mother was arrested on drug and weapons-related charges and remained in jail until December 8.

         Following the mother's failure to follow through with the extensive reunification services offered to her, the State filed a petition to terminate her parental rights as well as the fathers' rights to their respective children. The matter came on for hearing on June 30 and July 21, 2017, after which the mother's parental rights were terminated under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017) as to A.C. and A.R., (h) as to T.H. Jr. and A.K., and (e) as to all four children.[2] T.H.'s and R.K.'s parental rights were both terminated under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (h). The mother and the two fathers appeal.

         Standard of Review.

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

         The Fathers' Appeals.

         Both fathers, T.H. and R.K., request we reverse the findings of the district court under section 232.116(1)(e). As neither contests the findings made under (h), we affirm the termination of both father's parental rights under that subsection. See Hyler v. Garner, 548 N.W.2d 864, 870 (Iowa 1996) ("[O]ur review is confined to those propositions relied upon by the appellant for reversal on appeal."). Even if we were to address the terminations under the preserved issue of section 232.116(1)(e), we would affirm as the record fully supports the conclusion that neither father maintained "significant and meaningful contact" over the course of their ...


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