IN THE INTEREST OF Z.G., Minor child, R.H., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W.
Seidlin, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
H.R. Ginkens of Ginkens Law Firm, P.L.C., West Des Moines,
for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Janet L. Hoffman, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Kimberly S. Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian
ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
father appeals from the termination of his parental rights to
his child, Z.G. He claims: (1) the State failed to prove
the statutory grounds for termination; (2) termination is not
in the child's best interests; (3) termination was not
proper because of the closeness of the bond between the
father and the child; and (4) his imprisonment did not
necessarily require termination of parental rights. He also
claims the juvenile court erred in failing to grant him a
entered an order for further briefing on the issue of whether
Z.G. was "removed from the physical custody" of the
father in light of the Iowa Supreme Court's opinion
interpreting the "removal" aspect of Iowa Code
section 232.116(1)(h)(3). See In re C.F.-H., 889
N.W.2d 201, 203-08 (Iowa 2016). C.F.-H. was filed
after the juvenile court's order terminating the
father's rights. The father and the State filed
child was born with amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine,
hydrocodone, and marijuana in his system. He was removed four
days later from his mother's care, with the mother's
consent. At that time, no father had been identified.
Paternity testing confirmed R.H. as the father prior to the
child in need of assistance (CINA) adjudication hearing, but
he was not served with notice of the hearing. The child was
adjudicated a CINA pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.2(6)(c)(2), 232.2(6)(n) and 232.2(6)(o)
(2016). Sometime after the CINA adjudication
hearing the father was served with the CINA petition and
adjudication order. He and his attorney attended the first
dispositional hearing where the child was confirmed to be a
CINA. The father attended by telephone and his attorney was
present at the subsequent dispositional review hearing. The
father participated by telephone and his attorney was present
at the permanency/termination hearing.
father was incarcerated at the time of the child's birth
and remained incarcerated throughout the life of this case.
Although his tentative release date from the Newton
Correctional Facility was scheduled for January 11, 2017, he
was also on a federal detainer after having pled guilty to
two counts of bank robbery. His sentencing in federal court
was scheduled for January 23, 2017. The father hoped to be
released from federal custody in three to three-and-one-half
years, although he expected a sentence of fifty to seventy
months pursuant to the federal sentencing guidelines.
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo.
See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). 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 will
uphold an order terminating parental rights only if there is
clear and convincing evidence establishing the statutory
grounds for termination of the parent's rights. See
In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).
Evidence is "clear and convincing" when there is no
serious or substantial doubt as to the correctness of the
conclusions of law drawn from the evidence. Id.
of parental rights under Iowa Code chapter 232 (2016) follows
a three-step analysis. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d
33, 40-41 (Iowa 2010). First, the court must determine if a
ground authorizing the termination of parental rights under
section 232.116(1) has been established. See id. at
40. Second, if a ground for termination is established, the
court must apply the framework set forth 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 must consider if any statutory
factors set forth in section 232.116(3) should serve to
preclude termination. See id. at 41. The factors set
forth in subsection three are permissive and not mandatory.
See A.M., 843 N.W.2d at 113.
juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (h). When the
juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one
ground, we may affirm the order on any ground we find
supported by clear and convincing evidence in the record.
See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010). We
choose to address the ground for termination under section
232.116(1)(h). Under this provision, the court may terminate
the rights of a parent to a child if: (1) the child is three
years old or younger, (2) the child has been adjudicated a
CINA under section 232.96, (3) the child has removed from the
physical custody of the child's parents for at least six
of the last twelve months or the last six consecutive months
and any trial period in the home has been under thirty days,
and (4) "[t]here is clear and convincing evidence that
the child cannot be returned to the custody of the
child's parents as provided in section 232.102 at the
present time." Iowa Code ...