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In re J.K.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 11, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF J.K., Minor Child, H.D., Mother, Appellant. D.K., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and a father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.

          Erick W. Manning of Manning Law Office PLLC, Urbandale, for appellant mother.

          Patrick W. O'Bryan, Des Moines, for appellant father.

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

          Nicole Garbis Nolan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Potterfield, J., and Danilson, S.J.

          DANILSON, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A mother and a father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child, J.K. The child has been out of parental custody for more than twelve consecutive months, and neither parent is in a position to care for the child at present. Termination and permanency are in the best interests of this child. We therefore affirm on both appeals.

         This is the second out-of-home placement for seven-year-old J.K. The first child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) case opened in March 2015 and closed in January 2017. The father was in prison at the close of the case and was so at the time of the termination-of-parental-rights (TPR) trial.[1] In 2017, the mother had completed substance-abuse treatment and was participating in mental-health services; the child was returned to her. During the first round of juvenile proceedings, the child was in the care of his paternal grandmother.

         On January 25, 2018, the child was again removed from the mother's care and this second juvenile proceeding was opened. The mother's substance abuse, mental health, and domestically-violent relationship with her paramour were the instigating factors for the second CINA proceeding. The child was adjudicated CINA on March 12, a dispositional hearing was held in May, and review hearings were held in August and October. The mother did not engage in services provided by the department of human services (DHS), and has not seen the child since August 2018. At the time of the termination trial, "her whereabouts were unknown (reportedly in part because of an outstanding criminal court warrant that she was avoiding)." The father remained incarcerated but testified he anticipated being released to residential correctional facility soon. Both parents requested an extension of time to seek reunification. The juvenile court rejected the requests and terminated both parents' parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2019).

         On our de novo review, In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa 2012), we find clear and convincing evidence to support termination pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f). Id. at 774 ("When the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile court's order on any ground we find supported by the record.").

         The mother contends the termination hearing should not have been held because she was not served with notice of the termination hearing. However, diligent efforts were made to serve her. We agree with the juvenile court's determination that notice was properly dispensed with pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.112.

         The mother also contends the State failed to make efforts towards reunification, but she has failed to preserve error on this issue-with one exception. See In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 65 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999) (noting that in order to preserve for our review the question of whether reasonable efforts were made, "the mother had the obligation to demand other, different or additional services prior to the termination hearing"). The record does not reflect the mother ever sought additional services, ...


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