IN THE INTEREST OF J.D. and D.D., Minor Children, S.D., Mother, Appellant, D.D., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Julie A.
appeal the termination of their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON
H. Lane, Sioux City, for appellant mother.
K. Widdison of Law Office of Harold K. Widdison, P.C., Sioux
City, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Marchelle Denker of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, guardian
ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
and D.D. are the parents of two children; their younger child
was born in 2011. In May 2017, the juvenile court terminated
the parents' parental rights, finding statutory grounds
for termination under paragraphs (f) and (l) of Iowa
Code section 232.116(1) (2017). The court also concluded
termination of their parental rights was in the
children's best interests. Both parents appeal. Upon our
de novo review, we affirm.
Standard of Review and Statutory Framework.
rights may be terminated under Iowa Code chapter 232 if the
following three conditions are met: (1) a "ground for
termination under section 232.116(1) has been
established" by clear and convincing evidence, (2)
"the best-interest framework as laid out in section
232.116(2) supports the termination of parental rights,
" and (3) none of the "exceptions in section
232.116(3) apply to preclude termination of parental
rights." In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212,
219-20 (Iowa 2016). Our review is de novo, which means we
give the juvenile court's findings of fact weight,
especially the court's credibility assessments, but we
are not bound by those findings. See In re D.W., 791
N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010); see also In re B.B.,
440 N.W.2d 594, 596 (Iowa 1989). If the juvenile court has
found more than one statutory ground for termination, as is
the case here, "we may affirm the . . . termination
order on any ground that we find supported by clear and
convincing evidence." D.W., 791 N.W.2d at 707.
"For evidence to be 'clear and convincing, ' it
is merely necessary that there be no serious or substantial
doubt about the correctness of the conclusion drawn from
it." Raim v. Stancel, 339 N.W.2d 621, 624 (Iowa
Ct. App. 1983); see also M.W., 876 N.W.2d at 219.
the record shows that from at least August 2014 until court
intervention in early 2016, law enforcement officials
repeatedly responded to alcohol- and
domestic-violence-related incidents concerning the parents
and children. At the termination-of-parental-rights hearing
at the end of April 2017, both parents claimed they had
addressed their alcohol- and domestic-violence issues and the
children could be returned to their care at that time.
However, upon our de novo review of the record, we do not
find the parents' claims to be credible and agree with
the juvenile court that the State showed-by clear and
convincing evidence-these children could not be returned to
the parents' care at the time of the
this case turns on the parents' credibility-or rather,
their lack thereof-and their inability to demonstrate they
can put their children's needs before their own. Without
rehashing all of the parents' past conduct, a few early
incidents are indicative of the overall issues facing these
parents. In October 2015, the mother, fleeing an argument
with the father, drove while she was significantly
intoxicated with the children buckled in the front seat of
her car. She initially denied she was intoxicated, claiming
she had "had a couple of shots" but "did not
feel drunk and that she would never drive drunk ...