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In re N.D.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF N.D., Minor Child, M.S., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights.

          Dustin A. Baker of Baker Law, Dubuque, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer, Special Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Patricia M. Reisen-Ottavi of Ottavi Law Firm, Dubuque, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court decision terminating her parental rights. We find it is not in the child's best interests to give the mother another six months to work towards reunification with the child and termination is in the child's best interests despite the closeness of the parent-child relationship. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         D.D., father, and M.S., mother, are the parents of N.D., who was born in 2016.[1] Both parents have a lengthy history of problems with substance abuse. The mother's parental rights to seven older children were previously terminated. The parents voluntarily agreed to the child's placement in foster care; an order formally placing the child in foster care was filed on August 9, 2016.

         The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2016). At the time of the child's birth the mother was on probation for forgery. She had a positive drug test for cocaine and methamphetamine in May 2016. Due to probation violations she was ordered to participate in drug court and was placed in a halfway house. The mother had problems abiding by the program rules. In particular, she continued to have contact with D.D., despite a no-contact order, and her father, despite the fact he had sexually abused her and her older children.

         A petition for termination of the parents' rights was filed on February 13, 2017. After a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the mother's rights pursuant to section 232.116(1)(g), (h), and (l). The court denied the mother's request for an extension of time. The court concluded termination was in the child's best interests, and found no exceptions in section 232.116(3) should be applied. The mother now appeals the decision of the juvenile court.

         II. Standard of Review

         The scope of review in termination cases is de novo. In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). Clear and convincing evidence is needed to establish the grounds for termination. In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006). Where there is clear and convincing evidence, there is no serious or substantial doubt about the correctness of the conclusion drawn from the evidence. In re D.D., 653 N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). The ...


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