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In re A.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., Minor Child, A.B., Father, Appellant.

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

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

          Andrew J. Tullar of Tullar Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and McDonald, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, A.B., born in August 2015. The father's rights were terminated pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(b), (e), and (h) (2017).[1] The father argues there is not clear and convincing evidence to terminate parental rights on any of the three grounds for termination, termination is not in the child's best interests, and termination was not appropriate because a relative has custody of A.B.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In November 2015, a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition was filed based upon the father's domestic violence against the mother and both parents' methamphetamine use. A no-contact order was issued between the father and the mother. A.B. was adjudicated a CINA in February 2016 under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b), (c)(2), and (n). The father did not attend the hearing and the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) was unable to contact the father.

         In March 2016, the father was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia, interfering with official acts, and violating a no-contact order with the mother. DHS was able to make contact with the father while he was in jail. In April, the mother's drug patch tested positive for methamphetamine, and A.B. was removed from her care. A removal hearing was held in May; the father was not present and his whereabouts were unknown. A dispositional hearing was also held in May. Again, the father did not attend and could not be contacted by DHS.

          The father was arrested in May 2016 for a probation violation, and DHS contacted the father by phone in the jail. The father gave updated contact information to the department, but when DHS followed up, a resident at the address provided stated the father had not lived there for some time. DHS did not locate the father again until he was arrested in July 2016, and DHS contacted him in the jail.

         The father was sentenced in September 2016. A.B. visited the father once while he was in jail. This was the father's first visit with the child since the beginning of the proceedings in juvenile court. Because of the administrative policies of the prison, DHS was not able to set up a visit with the father again until May 2017. At the time of the termination hearing, A.B. had visited the father approximately six times in prison. The father participated in the termination hearing by phone from prison.

         In November 2016, A.B. was returned to his mother's care while she was receiving inpatient drug treatment. The mother successfully completed her drug treatment program and was released ...


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