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In re R.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 7, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF R.W., Minor Child, K.W., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Cheryl E. Traum, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her paternal rights.

          Martha L. Cox, Bettendorf, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Jean Capdevila, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          BOWER, Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court order terminating her parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e), (f), (g), and (i) (2017). We find reasonable efforts were provided, the evidence was sufficient to terminate her parental rights, no exceptions should be applied, and termination is in the best interests of the child. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The mother previously appealed a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights. Our court reversed the termination, holding "the time limitation on the termination hearing violated the mother's due-process right to a fair hearing. We therefore reverse and remand for a new termination hearing before a different judge." In re R.W., No. 16-1856, 2017 WL 1278365, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 5, 2017). Our court found the following facts:

R.W. was born in 2012. In September 2015, the mother was found unresponsive in a parking lot and did not know where then two-year-old R.W. was or who was caring for him. R.W. was later located in a hotel room being cared for by a thirteen-year-old girl. The mother tested positive for cocaine. R.W. was removed following the incident. The mother has longstanding substance-abuse and mental-health issues that previously led to the termination of her parental rights to three other children.
Notwithstanding the concerning start to the child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) case, the mother made progress during its pendency and was exercising visitation up to the day of the termination hearing. After R.W.'s removal, the mother began complying with services provided by the department of human services (DHS) and participating in substance-abuse treatment and mental-health counseling. Concerns remained, including the mother's refusal to internalize her substance-abuse problem, the one-time discovery of alcoholic beverages in the mother's home, and the mother's association with a known sex offender.
The district court entered a permanency order on May 21, 2016, granting the mother three additional months to seek reunification. The termination petition was filed on July 13, 2016.
The mother filed a motion to dismiss or, alternatively, to continue the termination hearing on August 4, 2016. The termination hearing was held August 24, 2016. The district court imposed a two-hour time limit on the termination hearing. The court entered the termination order on October 17, 2016, terminating the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f), (h), ...

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