IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., Minor Child, A.B., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Steven J.
Holwerda, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
J. Tullar of Tullar Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
M. Langmaid-Keller of Keller Law Office, P.C., Altoona,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
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). 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.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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