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In re C.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF C.W., J.W., D.W., and A.W., Minor Children, K.W., Mother, Appellant, J.W., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Phillip J. Tabor, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children.

          Barbara E. Maness, Davenport, for appellant mother.

          Victoria D. Noel of The Noel Law Firm, PC, Clinton, for appellant father.

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

          Neill A. Kroeger, Le Claire, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ. Tabor, J., takes no part.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A mother of four children and the father of three of those children left their children with relatives and moved out of state. The State filed a child-in-need of-assistance petition. A department of human services employee attested this was not the first time the parents relinquished care of the children. This time, according to the employee, the parents admitted to the relatives that "they were unable to care for the children due to methamphetamine use and homelessness."

         The district court adjudicated the children in need of assistance. The children remained in their relatives' care throughout the proceedings.

         The parents returned to Iowa after several months but declined to participate in all the supervised visits offered them and failed to fully avail themselves of other reunification services. A year into the proceedings, the department reported "a level of instability [that] subjected the children to unsafe and unstable conditions." The department cited "a long history of substance abuse and mental health issues as well as domestic violence."

         The State filed a petition to terminate parental rights. By the time of the hearing on the petition, the children had been out of the parents' custody for seventeen months. The district court granted the termination petition and both parents appealed.

         I. Mother

         The district court terminated the mother's parental rights to her four children-born in 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2013-pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017). The provision requires proof of several elements, including proof "that at the present time the child[ren] cannot be returned to the custody of the child[ren]'s parent." On appeal, the mother argues (1) the record lacks clear and convincing evidence to support the ground for termination cited by the court, (2)the ...


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