IN THE INTEREST OF R.W. and X.W., Minor Children, R.W., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Lynn Poschner,
District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
G. Crabb, Des Moines, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
ConGarry Williams, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Potterfield,
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to
R.W., born in March 2016, and X.W., born in January 2017. He
argues the district court should not have found immediate
termination of his parental rights was in the best interests
of the children while granting an additional six months for
the mother to work toward reunification. Moreover, he posits
a higher standard should be imposed when determining the best
interests of the children when termination is only of one
parent's parental rights.
parents have a history of domestic violence, which began
before the birth of their children. On two occasions, in July
and September 2015, the father assaulted the mother while she
was pregnant with R.W. The Iowa Department of Human Services
(DHS) first became involved with this family in October 2017,
after a domestic-violence incident where the father allegedly
pushed the mother from a moving vehicle; the two children
witnessed the event while sitting in the back seat. The
father denies pushing the mother out of the vehicle and
alleges she attempted suicide. According to the mother, the
two were arguing in the vehicle when she "blacked
out"; she then awoke in the hospital with multiple
injuries and assumed she tried to commit suicide. The
domestic violence continued, and on November 7 the mother
reported the father "slammed [her] head" into the
vehicle door while she was getting R.W. out of his car seat.
In addition, police were called to the family home on
November 8 when the father assaulted the mother because he
was mad she had filmed him using drugs.
State filed a petition to terminate the parental rights as to
both parents on May 10, 2018. After a hearing, the district
court terminated the father's parental rights on August
29 under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h)
(2018). The father appeals.
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de
novo." In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa
2016). "In considering whether to terminate the rights
of a parent . . ., the court shall give primary consideration
to the child[ren]'s safety, to the best placement for
furthering the long-term nurturing and growth of the
child[ren], and to the physical, mental, and emotional
condition and needs of the child[ren]." Iowa Code §
232.116(2). The father asserts a higher standard under the
best-interests analysis should be imposed when terminating
the rights of only one parent. The father cites to no
authority supporting the imposition of a higher burden of
proof upon the State. Moreover, this court has previously
rejected the argument that termination must apply to both
parents. See In re C.W., 554 N.W.2d 279, 282 (Iowa
Ct. App. 1996). Therefore, we decline to impose a higher
burden of proof, as the father suggests, when analyzing the
best interests of the children.
district court determined termination of the father's
parental rights was in the best interests of the children due
to the father's lack of participation in offered services
and his refusal to acknowledge his role in the multiple
incidents of domestic violence. When determining the best
interests of the children, we look to the parent's
"past performance because it may indicate the quality of
care the parent is capable of providing in the future."
In re C.K., 558 N.W.2d 170, 172 (Iowa 1997). Due to
the father's history of domestic violence, which has left
the children in precarious situations, and his failure to
acknowledge his actions or attempt to remedy his behavior, we
find termination of the father's parental rights is in
the best interests of the children.
father also mentions, in passing, that the district court
should have granted him a six-month extension as it did for
the mother. Under Iowa Code section 232.104(2)(b), a court
may authorize a six-month extension of time if it determines
"the need for removal of the child[ren] from the
child[ren]'s home will no longer exist at the end of the
additional six-month period." However, the father failed
to convince the district court that additional time would
extinguish the need for removal with regard to the father.
See Iowa Code § 232.104(2)(b). The district
court concluded, "[I]t is unlikely that the parents will
be able to safely regain custody of [their] children even if
a six month extension were granted given the progress and
work that would have to be completed." While, the
district court ultimately found "[i]t is in the
children's best short and long term interest to maintain
their relationship with [the mother] and be returned to ...