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In re A.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 2, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.B., Minor Child, D.B., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Virginia Cobb, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his minor child.

          Bryan J. Tingle of Tingle Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant father.

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

          Kayla A. Stratton of Juvenile Public Defender Office, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         A father appeals a juvenile court order terminating his parental rights to his minor child, born in 2009. The father contends the juvenile court erred in (1) finding clear and convincing evidence supported the statutory grounds for termination, (2) concluding termination is in the child's best interests, and (3) declining to apply a statutory exception to termination.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         This child and his parents came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in December 2015 upon information that the mother stabbed the father with a knife while in the presence of the child. This altercation stemmed from an argument concerning the father's contact with an ex-girlfriend, V.B., who was pregnant with the father's child at the time. The stabbing allegation was confirmed, and further investigation revealed a history of domestic violence between the parents. The State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition in February 2016, alleging the child had been exposed to domestic violence in the home. In April, the juvenile court adjudicated the child a CINA pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2016). The juvenile court placed the child with the father and ordered the father to not allow contact between the child and V.B. The mother was allowed visitation at the discretion of DHS.

         In July, the State filed an application to change the child's placement, alleging the father violated the court's previous order by allowing V.B. "to supervise and otherwise be around the child." On July 11, following an evidentiary hearing, the juvenile court removed the child from the father's care and placed him with his paternal aunt. In its July 19 modification-of-placement order, the court noted:

Placement outside the parental home is necessary because continued placement in or a return to the home would be contrary to the child['s] welfare due to father disobeying the no contact order of the court, and the parents causing mental stress on the child by putting him in the middle of their adult issues.

         The father appealed this order. A panel of this court affirmed the juvenile court's modification of placement, concluding "the transfer of custody to his aunt was necessary to protect A.B. from further harm." In re A.B., No. 16-1267, 2016 WL 5408263, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 28, 2016).

         In December, the State again moved to modify placement of the child, alleging the child's aunt had not taken the child to discovery therapy, had not been consistent with giving the child his medication, and engaged in inappropriate conversations with the child. The juvenile court granted ...


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