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In re T.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF T.M., Minor Child, M.M., Father, Appellant, E.H., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Charles D. Fagan, District Associate Judge.

         Parents separately appeal the juvenile court order terminating their parental rights.

          Daniel J. McGinn of McGinn, Springer & Noethe, Council Bluffs, for appellant father.

          Roberta J. Megel of State Public Defender Office, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

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

          Marti Nerenstone, Council Bluffs, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.

          BOWER, Chief Judge.

         A mother and father separately appeal the juvenile court decision terminating their parental rights. The mother claims the evidence does not support termination, the child can be returned to her custody, and termination is not in the best interests of the child. The father claims the court should have granted him additional time for reunification, he was not provided residential substance-abuse treatment, and termination is not in the best interests of the child. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         E.H., mother, and M.M., putative father, [1] are the parents to T.M., born in 2017. The parents have been in a long-term relationship since 2008. They had an older child together, and their parental rights were terminated as to that child in 2016. Throughout these proceedings, the parents reported they were separating on a number of occasions but the separations did not happen or did not last very long.

         On October 6, 2017, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) received a report following the father's arrest indicating he was using methamphetamine in the home while taking care of the child. The father was in jail at the time DHS began its investigation. The mother took a drug test, which came back negative for illegal drugs, and the child was allowed to remain in the mother's home. On December 4, the juvenile court adjudicated the child in need of assistance (CINA).

         In January 2018, the court determined the mother regularly allowed methamphetamine addicts to stay in her apartment and take care of the child while she worked. The child tested positive for methamphetamine. This incident led to a criminal child-endangerment charge against the mother, to which she pleaded guilty on June 26, 2018. It also led to the child being removed from the home and placed in foster care with the family who is caring for the child's older sibling.

         The mother received a suspended sentence and supervised probation. She successfully completed probation just before the termination hearing. The mother has held a full-time job for over six years and has stable housing. She often has at least one roommate to help pay the rent. ...


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