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In re S.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF S.M., Minor Child, S.L.M., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Mary L. Timko, Associate Juvenile Judge.

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

          John S. Moeller of John S. Moeller, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant father.

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

          Michelle Hynes of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, born in 2008. He contends (1) the record lacks clear and convincing evidence to support the grounds for termination cited by the juvenile court and (2) termination was not in the child's best interests.

         I. Grounds for Termination

         The mother and father have a long history of methamphetamine use. The department of human services learned of their drug use in 2014 and obtained an order removing the child from their care. Over the two-year life of the case, the child was removed from parental custody three times. The juvenile court eventually ordered the child returned to her parents' custody. The court granted the mother physical care and the father visitation. The case was dismissed in late 2016.

         The father relapsed in June 2017. Later the same year, the mother had a stroke brought on by excessive drug use. She was hospitalized and placed in a medically-induced coma.

         The department intervened again. The juvenile court ordered the child's removal and adjudicated the child a child in need of assistance. The department placed her in foster care with the same couple who cared for her during the first proceeding. She remained in their home throughout the proceedings.

         Meanwhile, the father was arrested on a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. He was jailed at a county facility and remained in jail or prison throughout the child-in-need-of-assistance and termination proceedings-a total of twenty-one months.

         The juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights pursuant to several statutory grounds. We may affirm if we find clear and convincing evidence to support any of the grounds. In re J.B.L,844 N.W.2d 703, 704 (Iowa Ct. App. 2014). On our de novo review, we focus on Iowa ...


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