In the Interest of E.C., Minor Child

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA No. 18-1167 Filed September 12, 2018 IN THE INTEREST OF E.C., Minor Child, E.M., Father, Appellant. ________________________________________________________________ Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cass County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge. The father appeals from the termination of his parental rights. REVERSED AND REMANDED. Gina C. Badding of Neu, Minnich, Comito, Halbur, Neu & Badding, PC, Carroll, for appellant father. Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State. Karen L. Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Atlantic, guardian ad litem for minor child. Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ. 2 POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge. The father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, E.C., born in July 2014. The juvenile court terminated the father’s parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d), (h), and (i) (2018). The father challenges the statutory grounds, maintains termination is not in E.C.’s best interests, and argues a permissive factor weighs against termination. He asks us to reverse the termination and return E.C. to his care but argues in the alternative that the juvenile court should have given him an extension of time to work toward reunification. I. Background Facts and Proceedings. E.C., the child at issue, is the daughter of the mother and the father. E.C.’s older half-sibling, J.L., has the same mother, Beth, but is not the biological child of the father.1 At the time these proceedings began, in September 2016, Beth was caring for E.C. and J.L. and was no longer in a relationship with J.L.’s father or with E.C.’s s father. Both children were removed from the mother’s care by emergency order after she was arrested for driving while under the influence of methamphetamine; E.C. was in the vehicle at the time. The reason is unclear, but the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) did not immediately make contact with the father. Instead, both E.C. and J.L. were placed in shelter care. In November 2016, both children were adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.6(b), (c)(2), and (n) (2016). 1 J.L.’s father never took part in services. When we refer to “the father” throughout, we mean E.C.’s father. 3 Around the same time, the mother moved into the father’s home, and they resumed a relationship. The pair received services together, and both E.C. and J.L. participated in visits together with both the mother and the father. DHS continued to have concerns about the mother’s mental health and her ability to refrain from using methamphetamine, but the department believed the father was a positive support for her. As of April 2017, DHS reported to the court that the father was “a responsible and caring father figure to both children.” Similarly, in its April 2017 combined review/modification order, the court noted the father “has been cooperative and receptive to feedback. [He] is employed and provides for the family.” The parents progressed to semi-supervised visits with the children. As ...

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