IN THE INTEREST OF A.V., Minor Child, T.V., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Clay County, Andrew Smith,
District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
Flaten of Maahs & Walleck, Spirit Lake, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Ditsworth, Spirit Lake, attorney and guardian ad litem for
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
child in interest was born in 2002; her parents were never
married. In 2006, a stipulated custody decree was entered
awarding the father physical care. According to his
testimony, the father has been using methamphetamine
"off and on" for sixteen years. His use of the
substance has resulted in previous
child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings. In January
2018, a third round of CINA proceedings was initiated and the
child was removed from the father's care as a result of
his substance abuse. The father conceded in his testimony
that there is a correlation between his substance abuse and
the child's mental-health problems, a result of which has
been the child's engagement in self-harming behavior.
the father participated in substance-abuse treatment during
the proceedings, he relapsed after his discharge. At the
termination hearing, the father testified he did not intend
to reengage in treatment aimed at resolving his
methamphetamine addiction. The father summarized his view on
substance-abuse treatment as follows: "[S]ubstance abuse
treatment is pointless. I mean, I've already done it
three times. They're not going to teach me anything I
don't know. They've already taught me the tools I
need to go use to stay clean." However, the father has
not stayed clean. The evidence shows the child, sixteen years
of age at the time of the termination hearing, fears any
possibility of being returned to her father's care and
desires termination. Toward the end of the termination
hearing, the father consented to termination.
juvenile court ultimately terminated the father's
parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(a), (f),
(k), and (l). The father now appeals, challenging
the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the statutory
grounds for termination cited by the juvenile
court. Our review is de novo. In re
L.T., 924 N.W.2d 521, 526 (Iowa 2019). Our primary
consideration is the best interests of the child. In re
J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006).
termination under section 232.116(1)(f), the father only
appears to challenge the State's establishment of the
final element-that the child could not be returned to his
care at the time of the termination hearing. See
Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(f)(4) (requiring clear and
convincing evidence that the child cannot be returned to the
custody of the child's parents at the present time);
In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010)
(interpreting the statutory language "at the present
time" to mean "at the time of the termination
hearing"). Upon our de novo review of the record, we
conclude the State met its burden for termination. A child
cannot be returned to a parent if the child would be at risk
of an adjudicatory harm upon return. See In re
A.M.S., 419 N.W.2d 723, 725 (Iowa 1988). Continued
methamphetamine use by a parent creates a risk of
adjudicatory harm. See Iowa Code § 232.2(6)(n);
see, e.g., In re T.B., No. 18-1139, 2018 WL
4361181, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2018). Furthermore, a
no-contact order prohibiting the father from contacting the
child, which was entered at the request of the child in
response to threats made by the father, was still in effect
at the time of the termination hearing. We affirm the
termination of the father's parental rights under Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(f). See D.W., 791 N.W.2d at
707 ("On appeal, we may affirm the juvenile court's
termination order on any ground that we find supported by
clear and convincing evidence.").