IN THE INTEREST OF A.S., Minor Child, R.S., Father, Appellant, M.S., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
and father appeal from the order terminating their parental
rights in their child issued pursuant to Iowa Code chapter
B.A. Feitelson of Nelsen & Feitelson Law Group, P.L.C.,
West Des Moines, for appellant father.
M. Young of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry
Brown & Bergmann, L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Wolle of the Juvenile Public Defender Officer, Des Moines,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
and Ryan challenge the termination of their parental rights
in their child A.S. The juvenile court terminated
Madison's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(f) and (l) (2017) and Ryan's parental
rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e), (f), and
(l). This court reviews termination proceedings de
novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa
2014). The statutory framework authorizing the termination of
a parent-child relationship is well established and need not
be repeated herein. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33,
39 (Iowa 2010) (setting forth the statutory framework).
novo review, we conclude there is clear and convincing
evidence supporting the statutory grounds authorizing the
termination of the parent's respective rights. Madison
does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting
the statutory grounds, and Ryan challenges only ground (f),
apparently conceding grounds (e) and (l). See In
re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa 2012) ("When the
juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one
statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile court's
order on any ground we find supported by the record.").
We reject Ryan's contention that he should be given an
additional six months' time to address the causes of
removal. See Iowa Code § 232.104(2)(b). The
request is unavailing given his current incarceration and
need for significant services upon his release.
conclude there is clear and convincing evidence termination
of Madison and Ryan's parental rights is in the best
interest of the child. Both of the parents have untreated
chronic substance-abuse disorders. See, e.g., In re
A.B., 815 N.W.2d at 776 (noting drug addiction can
render a parent unable to care for children); In re
R.P., No. 16-1154, 2016 WL 4544426, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App.
Aug. 31, 2016) (affirming termination of parental rights of
parent with history of drug abuse); In re H.L., No.
14-0708, 2014 WL 3513262, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. July 16, 2014)
(affirming termination of parental rights when parent had
history of substance abuse). The parents' substance abuse
has actively prevented them from providing appropriate care
for the child. Both parents have significant untreated
mental-health conditions, which has also prevented them from
providing appropriate care for the child. See, e.g.,
In re T.P., 757 N.W.2d 267, 271 (Iowa Ct. App. 2008)
(affirming termination of parental rights where
non-compliance with recommended mental health treatment posed
a risk to the child); In re D.B., No 14-1311, 2014
WL 5253077, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 15, 2014) (affirming
termination of parental rights where mother had untreated
mental health condition); In re R.G., No. 14-1134,
2014 WL 6682335, at *2-3 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 26, 2014)
(same). There is also a long history of domestic violence
between the parents. See, e.g., In re I.M., No.
16-0685, 2016 WL 4036256, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. July 27, 2016)
("A child cannot be returned to the care of the mother
where her abusive paramour presents a risk of harm to the
children."); In re K.P., No. 15-2078, 2016 WL
1703081, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 27, 2016) (affirming
termination on ground child could not be returned to the
mother's care at the time of the hearing where mother had
surreptitiously recommenced romance with abusive paramour);
In re S.C., No. 15-0262, 2015 WL 2089743, at *2
(Iowa Ct. App. May 6, 2015) (affirming termination of rights
where the mother failed to attend classes to address domestic
violence and continued to maintain "regular,
inappropriate, and harmful contact" with the abusive
father); In re J.F., No. 13-1956, 2014 WL 667789, at
*2 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 19, 2014) (affirming termination of
rights pursuant to paragraph (h) where the mother exposed the
child to domestic violence and unstable relationships);
In re D.H., No. 13-1693, 2014 WL 250256, at *2 (Iowa
Ct. App. Jan. 23, 2014) (affirming termination of rights
where mother was involved in violent relationships); In
re C.C., 538 N.W.2d 664, 667 (Iowa Ct. App. 1995)
(affirming termination where the mother's relationship
with abusive boyfriend created a risk of harm to the
children). Indeed, at the time of the termination hearing,
Ryan was incarcerated for yet another domestic violence
incident perpetrated against Madison.
we find no reason to exercise the discretion granted in Iowa
Code section 232.116(3) to preserve the parent-child
relationship. Both parents seek to maintain their legal ties
to A.S. while placing her in a guardianship with her maternal
grandparents. However, placement of a child with a relative
under a permanency order is not a legally preferable
alternative to termination of parental rights. See In re
L.M.F., 490 N.W.2d 66, 67-68 (Iowa Ct. App. 1992);
see also In re N.M., No. 17-0054, 2017 WL 1088119,
at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2017). "An appropriate
determination to terminate a parent-child relationship is not
to be countermanded by the ability and willingness of a
family relative to take the child." In re C.K.,
558 N.W.2d 170, 174 (Iowa 1997). Further, there is no
evidence establishing a guardianship is in the best interest
of the child. The evidence is actually to the contrary. The
parents have a tense and conflicted relationship with
A.S.'s maternal grandparents. The juvenile court found,
and we agree, that Ryan would actively seek to disrupt the
guardianship upon his release from prison in the absence of
an order terminating his parental rights.
affirm the order terminating Madison's and Ryan's
parental rights in A.S.