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In re M.P.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF M.P. and J.S., Minor Children, H.P., Mother of M.P., Appellant, A.S., Mother of J.S., Appellant, J.S., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Gary P. Strausser, District Associate Judge.

         Parents appeal the termination of their respective parental rights.

          Mark J. Neary of Neary Law Office, Muscatine, for appellant mother H.P.

          Timothy K. Wink of Schweitzer & Wink Law Firm, Columbus Junction, for appellant mother A.S.

          Leslie D. Lamping of Lamping Schlegel & Salazar, L.L.P., Washington, for appellant father.

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

          Elizabeth Araguas of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to two children. The mother of each child separately appeals the termination of her parental rights to her respective child. We review their claims de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).

         I. Termination of the Father's Parental Rights.

         The father objects to termination of parental rights with respect to J.S.'s mother and asks that court to place both children in her care. The father may not challenge the termination of another parent's rights. See, e.g., In re L.J., No. 12-1410, 2012 WL 4513813, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 3, 2012) (citing In re D.G., 704 N.W.2d 454, 460 (Iowa Ct. App. 2005) (holding one parent cannot argue facts or legal positions pertaining to the other parent) and In re K.R., 737 N.W.2d 321, 323 (Iowa Ct. App. 2007) (determining a father did not have standing to raise arguments on the mother's behalf in an effort to obtain a reversal of the termination of his parental rights)).

         On appeal, the father seeks an additional six months. Time "is a critical element" in termination proceedings, and after the statutory time period for termination has passed, termination is viewed with a sense of urgency. In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 495 (Iowa 2000). Children are not equipped with pause buttons. See In re T.J.O., 527 N.W.2d 417, 422 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994) ("Children simply cannot wait for responsible parenting. Parenting cannot be turned off and on like a spigot. It must be constant, responsible, and reliable."); In re D.A., 506 N.W.2d 478, 479 (Iowa Ct. App. 1993) ("The crucial days of childhood cannot be suspended while parents experiment with ways to face up to their own problems."). Before the court can grant a parent additional time, there must be an assurance that the need for removal will no longer exist at the end of that time period. See Iowa Code § 232.104(2)(b). Considering the father's lack of progress during the two-year-long child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings, we are unconvinced that this would be the case here. See C.B., 611 N.W.2d at 495 ("Insight for the determination of the child's long-range best interests can be gleaned from 'evidence of the parent's past performance for that ...


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