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In re N.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 23, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF N.B., Minor Child, M.B., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child. AFFIRMED.

          Barbara O. Hoffman, Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Michael Sorci of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, born in 2006.[1] He challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the statutory grounds for termination and contends the juvenile court should have applied the statutory exception under Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(a) (2019) to preclude termination. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         This family came to the attention of the department of human services in February 2018, following the child's 911 call reporting domestic violence by the father toward the mother as the child was hiding in a closet. The mother suffered dislocated ribs during the incident. The father was arrested. He denied the argument was physical; however, he subsequently pled guilty to domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury and was sentenced to probation.[2] A no-contact order was issued prohibiting the father from having contact with the mother. Another no-contact order was subsequently issued naming the child as a protected party. The father has not lived in the mother's home since the incident.

         The parents have a history of domestic violence, and the mother and her three children previously spent several months living in a domestic violence shelter.[3] The father has a lengthy record of criminal convictions for violent and substance-related offenses. Prior to the incident, the father was using methamphetamine and drinking heavily on a daily basis. The father said he used methamphetamine "a couple months back," but he refused to cooperate with a drug screen. He was not taking his prescribed mental-health medications. In April 2018, the father was hospitalized for mental-health reasons.

         The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance. The father received an array of rehabilitative services, but he did not follow through consistently with mental-health treatment, substance-abuse treatment, or drug testing, and he tested positive for methamphetamine and used alcohol while on probation. In September 2018, he pled guilty to assault on a police officer. The father stipulated to violating his probation, his probation was revoked, and he was sentenced to prison.

         The State filed a petition to terminate the father's parental rights in April 2019. The termination hearing was held in May. The record before the juvenile court indicated the child had seen the father several times since his arrest in February 2018, and he "might be released [from prison] as early as late July [2019]." The department and guardian ad litem recommended termination of the father's parental rights.

         Following the termination hearing, the court entered its order terminating the father's parental rights pursuant to Iowa ...


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