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In re S.P.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF S.P., Minor Child, A.W., Mother, Appellant. T.P. Jr., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Jennifer S. Bailey, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father appeal the juvenile court decision terminating their parental rights.

          Ryan D. Gerling of Cray Law Firm, Burlington, for appellant mother.

          Trent A. Henkelvig of Henkelvig Law Office, Danville, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Brent Ruther of Aspelmeier, Fisch, Power, Engberg & Helling, PLC, Burlington, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A mother and father appeal the juvenile court decision terminating their parental rights. We find the mother did not show the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to act with due diligence in contacting relatives, she does not have standing to challenge the juvenile court's decision to not permit the paternal grandmother to intervene, and she did not request additional services in a timely manner. The father improperly attempted to join the first two issues raised by the mother. We affirm the juvenile court's decision terminating the parental rights of the mother and father.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         T.P., father, and A.W., mother, are the parents of S.P., born in 2015. The child was removed from the parents' care on April 25, 2018, due to reports the mother was using and selling methamphetamine in the home. The child was placed in foster care. The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2018). The parents continued to use illegal drugs.

         Despite requests from DHS, the parents initially did not provide any information about relatives of the child. On September 18, the paternal grandfather contacted DHS to inquire about the child. From the paternal grandfather DHS compiled a list of relatives. The parents then agreed to provide information about some additional relatives. In October, the mother was charged with possession with intent to deliver and the father was in jail.[1] In a permanency order, the juvenile court ordered the State to initiate termination proceedings.

         The paternal grandmother filed a motion to intervene in the juvenile court proceedings. The court denied the request to intervene, finding the paternal grandmother had not regularly spent time with the child and was not bonded with her. The court also found it had "considerable concerns regarding [the paternal grandmother's] protective capacities and her ability to recognize and assist in the treatment of [S.P.] in dealing with her traumatic childhood." The foster parents also filed a motion to intervene, and this request was granted by the juvenile court.

         The State filed a petition for termination of parental rights. On January 3, 2019, the juvenile court terminated the parents' rights under section 232.116(1)(h). The court found, "The parents now find themselves in no better place than at the beginning of this case, struggling with methamphetamine usage and unstable mental health, with no stable home or income and living with each other, without having dealt with their domestic violence issues." The court concluded termination of the parents' rights is in the child's best interests and none of the ...


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