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In re K.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF K.G. and L.G., Minor Children, K.G., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Stephen A. Owen, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals from the order terminating his parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Larry J. Pettigrew of Pettigrew Law Firm, P.C., Ankeny, for appellant father.

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

          Daniela Matasovic of Matasovic Law Firm, Ames, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         A father appeals from the order terminating his parental rights.[1] He claims the State did not present sufficient evidence to show he did not maintain a place of importance in the children's lives and termination is not in the children's best interests. We find there was sufficient evidence to terminate his parental rights, termination is in the children's best interests, and there are no impediments to termination. Accordingly, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         L.G., born 2009, and K.G., born 2010, came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in October 2016 after receiving reports that the parents were not tending to the children's basic needs, evidenced by such behavior as using methamphetamine in the presence of the children.

         Both the mother and father had issues with substance abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness. Neither parent had stable housing as they were in jail during most of the pendency of the child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) case and termination proceedings. On October 14, 2016, following the mother's arrest and upon learning the DHS was aware of the children's dire situation, the father voluntarily placed the children with his sister in Cedar Rapids. The father, who was on probation, was arrested on October 18 after police found methamphetamine in his golf bag and drug paraphernalia in his truck. The father subsequently stated his intent on having the children in his care upon his release, implying his sister was only a temporary placement for the children.

          On November 29, 2016, the children were adjudicated in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2016). Following a dispositional hearing, the court confirmed the placement of the children with the father's sister and brother-in-law. When the father transitioned to a half-way house, he began to make progress in addressing his issues. However, the father did not follow through with the case permanency plan and was found passed out in his car under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol in early 2017. According to the August 23, 2017 DHS report, the father was incarcerated on April 24, 2017, "for charges including possession of a firearm as a felon," with a tentative discharge date of December 18, 2020. Following a permanency review hearing on September 5, 2017, the juvenile court held:

[T]he children have found a safe, stable, and secure placement with their aunt and uncle who are willing to provide permanency for them by way of adoption. It would be in the children's best interest to modify the permanency order to provide for termination of the biological parents' parental rights.

         The State filed a petition to terminate the father's parental rights. Following an October 16 hearing on the matter, where the father-still incarcerated-was represented but did not participate, the court entered an order, terminating the ...


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