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In re E.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 3, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF E.A. and A.A., Minor Children, E.A., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Lynn Poschner, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the juvenile court order terminating his parental rights.

          Lori M. Holm of Holm Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant father.

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

          Charles S. Fuson of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., Bower, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          SCOTT, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A father appeals the juvenile court order terminating his parental rights. We find termination of the father's parental rights is in the children's best interests. Also, the juvenile court properly determined the exception to termination based on the closeness of the parent-child relationship should not be applied. We affirm the juvenile court's decision.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         E.A., father, and M.G., mother, are the parents of E.A., born in 2013, and A.A., born in 2015. The parents have a history of domestic violence. There were also concerns about the father's use of alcohol.[1] In January 2017, the father had a physical altercation with the mother while he was intoxicated. An older child attempted to intervene and was injured.[2] The children were adjudicated to be in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b), (c)(2), and (n) (2017). The parents did not complete required drug testing, and the children were removed from their care on June 26, 2017. The children were placed in foster care.

         On October 24, 2017, the father was arrested for operating while intoxicated and driving without a license. He pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to fourteen days in jail. On May 29, 2018, the juvenile court determined the parents should have an additional six months to work on reunification. On June 20, the father was drinking and gave the mother a black eye. The father was arrested based on the incident and charged with domestic abuse assault. A no-contact order was entered. The father sporadically attended Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and individual therapy.

         On August 30, 2018, the State filed a petition seeking to terminate the parents' rights. On November 16, the father threw a pitcher of beer at a person in a bar and was charged with assault. At the termination hearing, held in February 2019, the father testified he had been the victim of domestic abuse, not the aggressor. The father refused to answer questions about whether he was employed or self-employed, or where he worked. He was also evasive about his use of alcohol and his attendance at AA.

         The juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights to E.A. under section 232.116(1)(d) and (f) (2018) and to A.A. under section 232.116(1)(d) and (h).[3] The court found the parents had exposed the children to domestic violence and substance abuse, and it concluded termination of the parents' rights was in the children's best interests. The court declined to apply any of the exceptions to termination found in section 232.116(3). The father now appeals.

         II. ...


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