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In re A.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.H., Minor Child J.H., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, David C. Larson, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the juvenile court order terminating his paternal rights.

          Michael H. Johnson of Johnson Law Firm, Spirit Lake, for appellant father.

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

          Thomas E. Bjornstad of Bjornstad Law Office, Spirit Lake, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A father appeals the juvenile court order terminating his parental rights. We find there was sufficient evidence to terminate the father's parental rights, the State made reasonable efforts, no exceptions should be applied to preclude termination, and termination is in the best interests of the child. We affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         A.H. was born to A.M., the mother, and J.H., the father, in 2013. At the time of A.H.'s birth, A.M. was married to M.M.[1] A.H. came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in April 2015. DHS was concerned about several incidents of domestic violence between the mother and father. The father had assaulted the mother on multiple occasions, including strangulation and an incident in which he assaulted the mother while she was holding the child. A.H. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance on August 10. The adjudicatory order placed A.H. in the custody of the mother.

         Services were provided to both the mother and father. The juvenile court noted the mother's parenting skills "have significantly improved." Conversely, the father did not cooperate with services. He continued to struggle with domestic-abuse, substance-abuse, and anger-management issues. The father was incarcerated during the pendency of the case for felony domestic abuse and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

         While in prison, the father participated in services to better himself, including attending narcotics and alcoholics anonymous, meetings with a substance-abuse counselor, continued interactions with DHS, working with a counselor to improve his parenting skills, anger-management classes, and continuing to stay in contact with A.H.

         A termination hearing was scheduled for October 17, 2017. On December 27 the juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights. The father now appeals.

         II. ...


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