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In the Interest of W.E. and D.J., Minor Children
Attorney for Appellant Mother
Kelsey Bauerly Langel
Attorney for Appellant Father
Attorney for Appellee State
Ellen Ramsey-Kacena, Assistant Attorney General
Guardian ad Litem
Debra S. De Jong
Court of Appeals
Court of Appeals Opinion
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Sioux County, Daniel P. Vakulskas, District Associate Judge. AFFIRMED ON MOTHER’S APPEAL; REVERSED AND REMANDED ON FATHER’S APPEAL. Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., May, J., and Potterfield, S.J. Opinion by Potterfield, S.J. (10 pages)
The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their children, W.E. and D.J. The juvenile court terminated both parents’ rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d), (e), and (f) (2019). The father argues his rights were violated because he was not allowed to participate in most of the termination hearing. Additionally, he claims the juvenile court erred in refusing to admit one of his proposed exhibits, challenges the statutory grounds for termination, and argues termination is not in the children’s best interests. The mother challenges the statutory grounds for termination, whether termination is in the children’s best interests, and the juvenile court’s refusal to apply a permissive factor to save the parent-child relationship. Additionally, she argues a six-month extension to achieve reunification is warranted. OPINION HOLDS: The father’s due process rights were violated when he was not allowed to fully participate in the termination proceedings. We reverse the termination of the father’s parental rights and remand the case to the juvenile court for additional expedited proceedings in accordance with this opinion. But we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights, as statutory grounds for termination were met, termination is in the children’s best interests, no permissive factor weighs against termination, and additional time for reunification is not warranted here.