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In re S.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF S.R., Minor Child, D.R., Father, Appellant, M.W., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M. Jacobs, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and a father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Alexandra M. Nelissen of Taylor Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Yvonne C. Naanep, Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and John McCormally, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kimberly S. Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         A mother and a father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child. Both contend there is insufficient evidence demonstrating the statutory grounds for termination. In addition, each alleges that termination is contrary to the child's best interests and argues termination should be avoided under one of the statutory exceptions. Our review is de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).

         The child became involved with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) following a December 2016 birth. The DHS was already involved with the child's half-sister, who was abused when the mother left her with inappropriate caregivers. The child's father is incarcerated and a registered sex offender. Due to these circumstances, the juvenile court ordered the child's removal from the home when the child was two days old. The child has remained in out-of-home placements since the initial removal.

         In January 2017, the juvenile court entered an order adjudicating the child to be in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (defining a CINA as a child who is imminently likely to suffer harmful effects as a result of the failure of the child's parent to exercise a reasonable degree of care in supervising the child) and (n) (defining a CINA as a child whose parent's mental capacity or condition, imprisonment, or drug or alcohol abuse results in the child not receiving adequate care) (2017). The State filed a petition to terminate parental rights in September 2017. Following an October 2017 termination hearing, the juvenile court entered an order terminating both the mother's and the father's parental rights.

          The juvenile court terminated both the mother's and the father's parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h).[1] The court may terminate parental rights under this section where clear and convincing evidence establishes the following:

(1) The child is three years of age or younger.
(2) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant ...

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