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In re G.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF G.W., Minor Child, G.W., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph Seidlin, Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental relationship with his three-year-old son. AFFIRMED.

          Edward S. Fishman of Hopkins & Huebner, P.C., Adel, for appellant father.

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

          Karl Wolle of Juvenile Public Defender, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         A father, Gregory, appeals the juvenile court's order terminating his parental relationship with his son, G.W., who was born in November 2015. The court found Gregory had a "mounting history of domestic violence" and untreated problems with alcohol and substance abuse, which hindered his ability to parent G.W. On appeal, Gregory contends the State did not prove statutory grounds for termination, reasonable efforts to reunify, or that termination is in G.W.'s best interests. Gregory also alleges the court should have denied the petition to terminate based on the closeness of the parent-child relationship. In the alternative, he asks to delay permanency for six months.

         After an independent review of the record, we share the conclusions of the juvenile court.[1] Gregory is not in a position to be G.W.'s caretaker at the present time-he admitted that at the termination hearing. And because his remaining arguments muster no traction, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Gregory has engaged in a pattern of domestic violence over the past decade. It was his assault on G.W.'s mother, Monica, in the child's presence that drew the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in July 2017.[2]The parents also were using controlled substances and drinking alcohol to excess. Gregory was on probation for cocaine possession at the time of the assault. The court approved the DHS decision to remove G.W. from the parents' care and placed the toddler with his maternal grandmother.

         For the next fourteen months, Gregory did little to improve his parenting skills or his relationship with G.W. He had limited contact with G.W. He participated in none of the DHS-recommended services and continued to use drugs frequently and drink alcohol heavily on a daily basis. As the juvenile court observed: "He was relying on Monica to reunite with [G.W.] rather than make the needed changes himself."

         Then, in September 2018, things took another turn for the worse. Police investigated another attack by Gregory against Monica. She told officers Gregory grabbed her by the throat with both hands and strangled her until she lost consciousness. He struck her several times in the face. And he strutted around the apartment with a gun, threatening to kill her. Officers noticed marks on her neck and an open cut on her upper lip. They found a .22 caliber magnum revolver in the couple's bedroom. Gregory faced charges of felony domestic abuse strangulation and spent the next three months in the Polk County jail awaiting trial. He was granted pretrial release in late December to attend residential substance-abuse treatment in Fort Dodge.

         In October 2018, the DHS placed G.W. in the same household as his three older half-brothers, who live with their father and his girlfriend. The case worker reported G.W. was ...


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