IN THE INTEREST OF C.T., Minor Child, D.T., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox,
District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
Knight of Carr Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
ConGarry Williams of Juvenile Public Defender's Office,
Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
child. We review his claims de novo. See In re A.S.,
906 N.W.2d 467, 472 (Iowa 2018).
child was removed from the mother's care shortly after
birth in January 2018. The juvenile court adjudicated the
child to be in need of assistance. The father's paternity
was established in April 2018, but the father was unable to
parent the child because he was in jail awaiting trial on
various drug-related criminal charges. The State filed a
petition to terminate both the mother's and the
father's parental rights in September 2018. After a
hearing, the juvenile court entered an order terminating the
mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(g) and (h) (2018) and the father's parental
rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(e) and (h). The
father first contends the State failed to prove the grounds
for termination by clear and convincing evidence. Although
the juvenile court terminated parental rights on more than
one ground, we need only find grounds to terminate under one
of the subsections cited by the juvenile court to affirm.
See In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App.
1999). With regard to the termination of his parental rights
pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h), the father does not
dispute the State's proof concerning the elements of that
section. He instead argues the child could be returned to the
custody of the mother, "thereby negating the necessity
of terminating [his] parental rights." He ignores the
fact that the mother's parental rights were terminated.
In any event, he does not have standing to assert such an
argument. See In re K.R., 737 N.W.2d 321,
323 (Iowa Ct. App. 2007) (stating the father did not have
standing to assert an argument on the mother's behalf
"in an effort to ultimately gain a benefit for himself,
that is, the reversal of the termination of his parental
rights"); In re D.G., 704 N.W.2d 454, 460 (Iowa
Ct. App. 2005) (stating that one parent cannot assert facts
or legal positions pertaining to the other parent).
Accordingly, we affirm the termination of the father's
parental rights pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h).
father also contends termination is not in the child's
best interests. See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703,
706-07 (Iowa 2010) ("If a ground for termination is
established, the court must, secondly, apply the
best-interest framework set out in section 232.116(2) to
decide if the grounds for termination should result in a
termination of parental rights."). In making this
determination, our primary considerations are "the
child's safety," "the best placement for
furthering the long-term nurturing and growth of the
child," and "the physical, mental, and emotional
condition and needs of the child." In re P.L.,
778 N.W.2d 33, 37 (Iowa 2010) (quoting Iowa Code §
232.116(2)). The "defining elements in a child's
best interest" are the child's safety and "need
for a permanent home." In re H.S., 805 N.W.2d
737, 748 (Iowa 2011) (citation omitted).
father claims termination is not in the child's best
interests because he is "willing and able to access any
necessary services and be available to parent" the child
and that participation in these services could allow
him to one day provide support for the child in the form of a
home, emotional support, or economic support. Despite his
proclaimed willingness to engage in these services, the
father has been unable to do so due to his jailing on
criminal charges. Although the preliminary criminal complaint
was filed in September 2017, the trial has been continued a
number of times, most recently in October 2018 when the
father obtained new counsel just prior to the start of trial.
assuming the father is released following trial and is able
to engage in services, we find termination is in the
child's best interests. Once the grounds for termination
have been proved, time is of the essence. See In re
A.C., 415 N.W.2d 609, 614 (Iowa 1987) ("It is
unnecessary to take from the children's future any more
than is demanded by statute. Stated otherwise, plans which
extend the [statutory] period during which parents attempt to
become adequate in parenting skills should be viewed with a
sense of urgency."); see also In re R.J., 436
N.W.2d 630, 636 (Iowa 1989) (noting that once the time period
for reunification set by the legislature has expired,
"patience on behalf of the parent can quickly translate
into intolerable hardship for the children"). The father
has a lengthy criminal record and unaddressed substance-abuse
and mental-health issues. Resolving these issues will take
time, which we will not demand of the child. Children are not
equipped with pause buttons, and delaying their permanency in
favor of a parent is contrary to the children's best
interests. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 112 (Iowa
2014) (noting children must not be deprived permanency on the
hope that someday the parent will be able to provide a stable
home); A.C., 415 N.W.2d at 614 (noting that in
considering whether to allow a parent additional time to
remedy parenting deficiencies, the court should
"constantly bear in mind that, if the plan fails, all
extended time must be subtracted from an already shortened
life for the children in a better home"). The child
needs permanency, and the loss of future emotional support
from a father the child has never met does not outweigh that
need. The loss of financial support is an insufficient reason
not to terminate parental rights if termination is otherwise
in the child's best interests. See H.S., 805
N.W.2d at 746-49.
State has proved the grounds for termination by clear and
convincing evidence, and termination is in the child's
best interests. Accordingly, we affirm the ...