IN THE INTEREST OF M.P. and M.P., Minor Children, J.P., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Montgomery County, Amy
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
E. Miller, Red Oak, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler (until
withdrawal) and Mary T. Triick, Assistant Attorneys General,
for appellee State.
Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Anita, attorney and
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.
juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights to
his children, M.J.P. and M.F.P. On appeal, the father contends
the juvenile court erred in (1) concluding the statutory
grounds authorizing termination were met, (2) determining
termination is in the children's best interests, and (3)
declining to rely on permissive factors to forgo termination.
We affirm the juvenile court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
father and mother met in 2011 and married in 2012. The mother
already had three children from a prior
relationship. M.J.P. and M.F.P. were born to the couple
in 2012 and 2014, respectively. But by 2015, the parents
separated. In 2016, the mother and the children moved in with
the mother's paramour.
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved when
a therapy provider reported that the mother suggested she was
having difficulty caring for the children. Also, the children
appeared dirty, hungry, and inadequately clothed. DHS
inspected the home and found the children's bedroom to be
in "deplorable" condition. Interviews with the
older children revealed the children were often left
unsupervised and had inadequate food.
mother and her paramour submitted to drug testing; the
paramour tested positive for methamphetamine. A DHS worker
informed the mother child-in-need-of-assistance proceedings
would be initiated and advised her to have the three oldest
children return to their father's care to avoid
adjudication. The mother complied.
a child-protective assessment, M.F.P. and M.J.P.'s father
behaved in a concerning manner. He threatened to withhold the
children after his visitation. He also sent up to one-hundred
messages per day to a family safety, risk, and permanency
(FSRP) worker assigned to the family. During a meeting
between concerned parties, the father became aggressive
toward the mother.
January 2017, the juvenile court formally adjudicated M.F.P.
and M.J.P. as children in need of assistance. The court also
removed both children from the parents' custody.
February, the court entered a two-year no-contact order
prohibiting the father from contacting the mother.
adjudication, the mother made strides. She ended her
relationship with her paramour. She successfully completed
both inpatient and outpatient substance-abuse treatment and
engaged in mental-health services. She also completed several
father completed a requested substance-abuse evaluation,
which indicated he did not require any substance-abuse
treatment. He also submitted to a mental-health evaluation.
Additionally, he completed five therapy sessions and received
a letter from a therapist stating the therapist was
"aware of no information that would lead [him] to
believe or conclude that [the father] has a problem with
so, the father struggled to behave appropriately in front of
the children. For example, during an April 2017 visit, the
father became upset about the content of an FSRP report;
began pacing around the FSRP worker; accused her of lying;
ended the visit early; instructed the children to "ask
[the FSRP worker] why she is so mean to daddy"; yelled
"bitch" at the worker while making an obscene hand
gesture; and then struck the hood of the FSRP van while the
children were inside the vehicle.
2017, the court returned the children to mother's care,
subject to DHS supervision. And the father received
unsupervised overnight visits with the children in August and
became aware of allegations that the father sexually abused
the mother's older children when they all lived together.
The children disclosed the abuse after returning to their
father's home out of state. Because of these allegations,
M.J.P. and M.F.P.'s visitation with their father returned
to fully supervised.
January 2018, DHS completed child-protective assessments of
the father's alleged sexual abuse of the mother's
older children. Three founded assessments listed the father
as the individual responsible for the abuse. The father
appealed one of these findings and reached a settlement
agreement that modified the category of founded abuse. As a
result of these findings, the juvenile court ordered the
father submit to a psychosexual evaluation. But the father
did not comply.
ceased contact with the children in 2018 for at least four
months. The FSRP worker attempted to facilitate supervised
visitations during this period. But the ...