IN THE INTEREST OF A.F., Minor Child, A.J.F., Mother, Appellant, D.F., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, James B.
Malloy, District Associate Judge.
mother and father appeal the termination of their parental
M. Sparks of Cooper, Goedicke, Reimer & Reese, PC, West
Des Moines, for appellant mother.
Nicolas G. Fontanini of Jordan & Mahoney Law Firm, PC,
Boone, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Berman of Hastings, Gartin & Boettger, LLP, Ames,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE
mother and father separately appeal the termination of their
parental rights to their child, A.F., who was born in October
2011. The juvenile court terminated each parent's rights
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017), and
neither parent challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to
meet the statutory grounds. Each challenges the determination
that termination is in A.F.'s best interests and claims
the court should have found that a permissive factor
precludes termination and should have saved the parent-child
relationships by placing A.F. in a guardianship with her
paternal grandmother rather than terminating the parental
Background Facts and Proceedings.
September 2016, local police executed a search warrant on the
family's home and discovered more than one-quarter of a
pound of methamphetamine, a large sum of cash, drug
paraphernalia, other evidence of intent to sell, and a stolen
firearm. As a result of the search, each parent was charged
with a number of crimes. In a later interview with the Iowa
Department of Human Services, the mother admitted she
relapsed on methamphetamine in March 2016 and indicated she
used the drug two to three times per week since; she claimed
she did not use the drug in the home. The father indicated he
relapsed on methamphetamine in November or December 2015 and
admitted he used the drug three to four times each day; he
admitted using the drug in the garage of the home.
parents consented to the temporary removal of A.F. from their
care in October 2016. A.F. was placed in the care of her
paternal grandmother, where she remained at the time of the
termination hearing in January 2018.
mother originally accepted a plea deal, which resulted in her
receiving probation for the September 2016 drug-related
charges. However, at the time of the termination hearing, the
mother had just been sentenced to serve a ten-year prison
term following a guilty plea to an August 2017 charge of
theft in the first degree. In addition, the mother's probation
officer filed a notice of the mother's probation
violation following the new charges in August, and a
probation-revocation action was still pending. The mother
faced an additional ten-year sentence if her probation was
father ultimately pled guilty to two counts of possession
with intent to deliver (methamphetamine). He was still
awaiting sentencing at the time of the termination hearing.
The father testified he knew he would be serving prison time
but hoped to receive the minimum sentence, which would allow
him to be released in June 2020. ...