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In re J.F.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 19, 2014

IN THE INTEREST OF J.F., Minor Child, R.M., Mother, Appellant

Editorial Note:

This opinion is subject to modification or correction by the court and is not final until the time for rehearing or further review has passed.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W. Seidlin, District Associate Judge. A mother appeals from the order terminating her parental rights.

Jessica A. Millage of Millage Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Amanda Johnson, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Michelle Saveraid of the Youth Law Center, Des Moines, for minor child.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

OPINION

McDONALD, J.

Raelyn appeals an order pursuant to Iowa code section 232.116(1)(d), (e), (h), and ( l ) (2013) terminating the parental rights between her and her child, J.F. Raelyn contends that the State did not prove grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence and that the court erred in finding termination of her parental rights was in the best interest of her child.

I.

We review de novo proceedings terminating parental rights. See In re H.S., 805 N.W.2d 737, 745 (Iowa 2011). We examine both the facts and law, and we adjudicate anew those issues properly preserved and presented. See In re L.G., 532 N.W.2d 478, 480 (Iowa Ct. App. 1995). We give weight to the findings of the juvenile court, especially concerning the credibility of witnesses, but we are not bound by them. See id. at 480-81. While giving weight to the findings of the juvenile court, our obligation to review termination proceedings de novo means our review is not a rubber stamp of what has come before. We will thus uphold an order terminating parental rights only if there is clear and convincing evidence of grounds for termination. See In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000). Evidence is " clear and convincing" when there are no " serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness [of] conclusions of law drawn from the evidence." Id.

II.

Termination of parental rights under chapter 232 follows a three-step analysis. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010). First, the court must determine if a ground for termination under section 232.116(1) has been established. See id . Second, if a ground for termination is established, the court must apply the framework set out in section 232.116(2) to decide if proceeding with termination is in the best interests of the child. See id . Third, if the statutory best-interests framework supports termination of parental rights, the court ...


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