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In re E.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 18, 2018

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

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Adam D. Sauer, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals a juvenile court order terminating his parental rights.

          Barbara J. Westphal, Belmond, for appellant father.

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

          Crystal L. Ely of McGuire Law Firm, Mason City, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE

         The father, Daniel, challenges the order terminating his legal relationship to his eight-year-old son, E.B. On appeal, Daniel asks for an additional six months to work toward reunification. Daniel also contends termination of his parental rights was not in his son's best interests and was unnecessary because E.B. remained with Carrie, the child's mother and Daniel's ex-wife. Given Daniel's history of drug use, mental-health mismanagement, lack of consistent housing, and domestic violence, we agree with the conclusions of the juvenile court and affirm the termination order.[1]

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) removed E.B. from Daniel's care in August 2016 because of Daniel's ongoing substance abuse and because Daniel was arrested for allegedly assaulting Carrie in E.B.'s presence. Daniel and Carrie were married at the time of the alleged assault, but they have since divorced. In October, the juvenile court adjudicated the child in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2016) and ordered the child remain in Carrie's custody. The juvenile court subsequently entered an order limiting Daniel's contact with E.B. to supervised visits. To achieve reunification, the court instructed Daniel to act appropriately during visits with E.B. and when interacting with social workers, to follow recommendations for mental-health and substance-abuse treatment, to comply with drug testing, and to abide by the order prohibiting contact with Carrie. The DHS social worker assigned to the family's case saw Daniel make "little to no progress since the initiation of services."

         In April 2018, the juvenile court held a hearing on the State's petition to terminate Daniel's parental rights. The State cited paragraphs (a), (e), and (f) of Iowa Code section 232.116(1) (2017) as grounds for termination. The court found clear and convincing evidence to terminate Daniel's parental rights under paragraphs (e) and (f). Daniel appeals.[2]

         II. Analysis

         A. Additional Six Months

         Daniel argues an additional six months "would result in a significant change in circumstances" allowing him to reunify with E.B. The father contends he has made progress by attending weekly visitation, completing a ...


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