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In re C.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF C.M., Minor Child, N.P., Father, Appellant.

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

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his two-year-old son. AFFIRMED.

          Travis A. Inghram of Inghram Law, PLLC, Burlington, for appellant father.

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

          Josh Schier of Cray Law Firm, Burlington, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         Nathan challenges the juvenile court's order terminating his parental relationship with two-year-old C.M. C.M.'s mother, Angel, and Nathan cared for C.M. until the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) intervened in April 2018. The juvenile court terminated Nathan's parental rights in February 2019.[1] Nathan appeals, seeking additional time to establish a relationship with C.M. and arguing termination will be detrimental to C.M. because of the close bond he and C.M. share. After our independent review of the record, [2] we agree with the juvenile court's conclusion termination is warranted.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Nathan and Angel shared a nine-year relationship and had a child, C.M., together in January 2017. When C.M. was born, Angel was still married to Joshua, making Joshua C.M.'s legal father.[3] Nathan was incarcerated for the first six months of C.M.'s life. But when Nathan was released in July 2017, he "went straight to [Angel's] apartment" and began playing an active role in C.M.'s caretaking.[4] The DHS intervened[5] after C.M. tested positive for amphetamine during a medical appointment in April 2018. The juvenile court granted the DHS request for temporary removal of C.M. based on concerns Angel and Nathan were using illegal substances while caring for C.M.[6] C.M. has since been in foster care.

         At an early-May 2018 hearing, the juvenile court adjudicated C.M. a child in need of assistance (CINA) and directed Nathan to obtain DHS-recommended mental-health and substance-abuse evaluations, submit to random drug testing, and participate in Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) services, family team meetings, and visitation with C.M. For a short time after the hearing, Nathan accompanied Angel to visitations with C.M. and seemed amenable to DHS services. But toward the end of the month, Nathan stopped showing up for the scheduled visits. And when FSRP care coordinator Kimberly Young asked Angel where Nathan was, Angel said she hadn't heard from him.[7] Despite the DHS mailing communications to Nathan at the address he provided (his mother's address), Nathan's involvement with C.M.'s case came to a halt.

         In October 2018, the State petitioned to terminate parental rights. Then, in early December, Nathan resurfaced-he penned a letter to the DHS from the

          Hancock County Jail in Carthage, Illinois, asking the DHS to communicate with him about C.M.

         The court set the termination hearing for January 15, 2019.[8] On January 8, Nathan moved to continue the termination hearing to allow time for his paternity test scheduled for January 17. The juvenile court denied Nathan's motion, citing Nathan's delay in obtaining paternity testing and failure to participate in hearings or services. After the hearing, [9] the ...


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