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In re J.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 21, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF J.L. and J.L., Minor Children, A.H., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, William S. Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights.

          Jonathan Willier, Centerville, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Robert E. Breckenridge of Breckenridge Law, P.C., Ottumwa, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Greer, J., and Gamble, S.J. [*]

          GAMBLE, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court child in need of assistance (CINA) permanency order establishing termination of parental rights as a goal of permanency and the decision terminating her parental rights.[1] She claims the State failed to make reasonable efforts respecting visitation and family therapy with a goal of reunification. We find the State engaged in reasonable efforts to reunite the mother with her children and termination of the mother's parental rights is in the children's best interests. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         A.H., mother, and J.L., father, are the parents of J.L., born in 2002, and J.L., born in 2006. The mother and her paramour, K.C., have a history of domestic violence. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) removed the children from the home on June 29, 2015, after K.C. violated a no-contact order by going to the mother's home. There were also concerns because of drug paraphernalia found in the home. DHS placed the children in foster care.

         The juvenile court adjudicated the children to be in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2015). The court stated, "Clearly, the repeated incidents of domestic violence in the home where the children reside with their mother perpetrated by mother's paramour (including one incident involving a claw hammer and another incident in which [K.C.] threatened to kill [the mother]) place the children in imminent risk to life or health."

         The mother had a substance-abuse evaluation, which resulted in a diagnosis of alcohol abuse. On April 9, 2016, police charged the mother with public intoxication and interference with official acts. Additionally, K.C. was charged with domestic abuse assault for an incident involving the mother.

         In a permanency order filed June 28, 2016, the juvenile court stated, "The fear [the children] have of [K.C.] combined with [the mother's] insistence on continuing a relationship with him have bred a feeling of mistrust and resentment between the girls and their mother which has yet to be resolved."

         The case continued over an extended period of time as DHS worked to reunite the children with the father.[2] That ...


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