IN THE INTEREST OF G.O., Minor Child, A.O., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Butler County, Peter B.
Newell, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights.
Elizabeth M. Wayne of Papenheim Law Office, Parkersburg, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Elizabeth A. Batey of Vickers Law Office, Greene, attorney
and guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Mullins, J., and Vogel,
father of G.O., born October 2018, appeals the termination of
his parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and
(l) (2019). The father asserts (1) the court should
have continued the hearing because he did not receive proper
notice of the hearing, (2) the State failed to present clear
and convincing evidence warranting termination, and (3)
termination is not in the best interests of the child. On our
de novo review, In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219
(Iowa 2016), we find no merit to his arguments and
four days after G.O.'s birth, and while she remained
hospitalized, a temporary order was entered, placing her
legal custody in the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
and care with family members. The mother admitted to using
both methamphetamine and marijuana throughout the pregnancy,
which likely caused G.O.'s numerous health issues,
including her critically poor kidney function. The father
also admitted to a long history of methamphetamine use and
was currently charged with various drug offenses.
offered the family services; the father completed a
substance-abuse evaluation but failed to follow through with
recommended treatment. With the father failing to make
progress toward reunification, the State petitioned for
termination of the parent-child relationship on May 17, 2019.
Although the court ordered the father to file an affidavit of
financial status if he desired to have counsel appointed for
him, the father failed to take any steps to secure this
assistance. The matter came on for hearing on June 26; the
father appeared, requesting a continuance and that counsel be
appointed to represent him. With the financial affidavit
completed, the court appointed counsel and granted the
continuance. In open court and by written order, the court
advised the father that it was continuing the hearing until
September 4. After several attempts by the sheriff to
personally serve the father, he was finally personally served
on the day set for the termination hearing, in the parking
lot of the courthouse. The father appeared for the hearing
with counsel and requested another continuance. He
acknowledged through counsel that he knew of the date and
time for the hearing, and the court denied the continuance.
appeal, the father again asserts the court should have
granted a second continuance of the termination hearing
because he was improperly served with notice of termination.
We review the denial of a motion for continuance for an abuse
of discretion. In re C.W., 554 N.W.2d 279, 281 (Iowa
Ct. App. 1996). The father correctly cites Iowa Code section
232.112(3), which provides notice by personal delivery
"shall be served not less than seven days prior to the
When any aspect of a normal service process is dispensed
with, a review of the facts is required to determine the
appropriate level of diligence by the state and the type of
notice required. The notice must be reasonably calculated to
apprise the parent of the pending proceeding in light of the
circumstances concerning that particular parent.
In re R.E., 462 N.W.2d 723');">462 N.W.2d 723, 724 (Iowa Ct. App.
1990). As the juvenile court found, the father was notified
in person of the date and time during the originally
scheduled hearing on June 26 and in the written order of the
same date. He then appeared with counsel at the rescheduled
September 4 hearing. We conclude this notice of the
termination hearing was sufficient and the juvenile court did
not abuse its discretion in denying the father's second
motion to continue. See id. at 727 (finding a mother
had sufficient notice of the termination of her parental
rights where the mother participated in the CINA action that
preceded termination, her attorney had notice of termination,
and the State performed a reasonably diligent search to serve
next to review whether the State proved by clear and
convincing evidence the father's rights should be
terminated under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(h).See In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764,
774 (Iowa 2012) (stating that when rights are terminated on
more than one statutory ground, the reviewing court may
affirm the juvenile court's order on any ground supported
by the record). We review termination proceedings de novo.
Id. at 773. The father asserts the State failed to
prove G.O. would be subjected to adjudicatory harm as
provided in section 232.102 if returned to his care. Yet, the
father has never shown he could safely parent the child, has
only sporadically attended offered visits, and has not
complied with offered services to move toward reunification.
He testified that he was essentially homeless-occasionally
staying "at a buddy's house" or "sleeping
in my vehicle"-and admitted the child could not go home
with him at the time of the hearing. He claimed he last used
methamphetamine three weeks before the September 4 hearing,
which was his longest period of sobriety since ...