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In re J.F.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF J.F., Minor Child, K.F., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Humboldt County, Angela L. Doyle, Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights.

          Ashley M. Emick of Arends, Lee, Emick & Legvold, Humboldt, for appellant mother.

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

          Sarah J. Livingston of Thatcher, Tofilon & Livingston, P.L.C., Fort Dodge, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights. We find the termination of the mother's parental rights is supported by clear and convincing evidence, no exception to termination should be applied, it would not be in the child's best interests to give the mother additional time, and the State did not fail to engage in reasonable efforts. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         K.F., mother, and J.K., father, are the parents of J.F., born in 2014. The child was removed from the parents' care on February 17, 2016, when police officers responded to a call of a disturbance and found cocaine, scales, and a business ledger in the child's diaper bag. In addition, the mother had methamphetamine on her person. A hair test of the child was positive for methamphetamine and marijuana. The child was placed in the care of his maternal grandfather.

         The child was adjudicated in need of assistance (CINA), pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2016). The mother started a substance-abuse treatment program in July 2016. The child joined her at the treatment program on August 22. She returned the child to the care of the maternal grandfather on October 5, and left the program without completing treatment. Shortly thereafter, she attempted to overdose on her medications.

         On February 10, 2017, based on the father's progress with services, the court determined the case should be extended for six months. In June, the child was placed with the father. In August, the court continued the case further while the father participated in services. The child was removed from the father's care on October 9 due to the father's drug use. The child was again placed with the maternal grandfather. Throughout this time, the mother did not participate in services and was sporadic in attending visitation with the child. Furthermore, she did not have stable housing.

         On July 9, 2018, the State filed a petition seeking to terminate the parents' rights. The mother filed a motion stating she was starting a new substance-abuse treatment program and asking to have the case continued for an additional six months. She was unsuccessfully discharged from treatment on October 17. At the termination hearing, held on October 26, the mother testified she used methamphetamine that morning. She also stated she was participating in an intensive outpatient treatment program. The mother testified the child could not be returned to her care at that time.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights under section 232.116(1)(b), (e), and (f) (2018).[1] The court found termination is in the child's best interests. The court denied the request to extend the case for an additional six months, holding, "The Court is unable to find that the need for removal of the child will no longer exist at the end of an additional six-month period." Finally, the court declined to ...


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