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In re A.T.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

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

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights. AFFIRMED.

          Patricia J. Meier of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant father.

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

          Zachary P. Crowdes, Cedar Rapids, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         A father appeals the juvenile court order terminating his parental rights. He claims clear and convincing evidence shows termination would be detrimental to the children due to the closeness of the parent-child bonds. We find termination of the father's parental rights is in the children's best interests. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         J.T., father, and J.K., mother, are the parents of two children, A.T. and A.D.T., born in 2015 and 2016. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) has been involved with the family since the birth of A.T. due to the child testing positive for marijuana at birth, substance abuse by both parents, the father's probation violations, and domestic violence between the parents.

         On February 4, 2016, a petition to declare A.T. a child in need of assistance (CINA) was filed due to concerns of domestic violence in the child's presence, marijuana use in the home, and supervision concerns. A.T. was adjudicated CINA on March 29, but remained in her mother's care after the mother assured DHS she was not using drugs anymore. DHS agreed to visitation for the father. The mother tested positive for marijuana. A.T. was removed from the home on June 16 after the mother's drug test came back positive and the father failed to appear for a probation appointment. Testing on the child's hair came back positive for ingestion and exposure to marijuana. In September, the father was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance.[1] The father participated in substance-abuse treatment while incarcerated.

         A.D.T. was born in late 2016 and tested negative for controlled substances. The father was in jail at the time of A.D.T.'s birth. A CINA petition was filed for the younger child on January 3, 2017, due to the parents' lack of compliance on the older child's case. The lack of compliance included the father's arrest for probation violations on multiple drug charges. At a January 24 permanency hearing for the older child, the court granted additional time to work toward reunification. The younger child was adjudicated CINA on February 6, but remained in the mother's care. The older child was returned to the parents' care on June 27, as the mother was addressing her mental-health and substance-abuse issues. The father had been released from jail and was sharing care of the children with the mother.

         In September 2017, the mother and father were living together with the children at the home of the paternal grandmother. The parents only occasionally complied with required weekly drug testing. When he complied with testing for his probation, the father's tests often came back positive for marijuana. The parents did not make themselves available for all the weekly face-to-face contacts with service providers as required.

         Following a January 2018 request to close the case, the court ordered hair tests on the children and set a hearing. Both children's tests came back positive for ingestion of marijuana. In February, DHS also discovered the father had not been compliant with his probation and had not been ...


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