IN THE INTEREST OF C.M., Minor Child, P.M., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M.
Jacobs, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
D. Zinkula of Booth Law Firm, Osceola, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
E. Mayfield of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
was born in 2006. A month after his eleventh birthday, the
juvenile court terminated his father's parental rights,
finding that the State established the ground for termination
set forth in Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017) and that
termination was in the child's best
interests. The father now appeals on both points.
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 true: (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 A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467,
472-73 (Iowa 2018). 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 id. at 472.
"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 In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212,
219 (Iowa 2016).
Code section 232.116(1)(f) requires the State to prove, among
other things, that there is clear and convincing evidence the
child could not be returned to the parent's care at the
time of the termination-of-parental-rights hearing.
See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(f)(1)-(4); see
also In re C.F.-H., 889 N.W.2d 201, 205 (Iowa 2016)
(discussing paragraph (f)). Based upon the following facts,
we agree with the juvenile court that the State met its
September 2016, the child came to the attention of the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) after the child's
treating psychiatrist wrote a detailed letter recommending
the child be placed out of the father's
care. At that time, the child lived with the
father in the home of a woman whose relationship to the
family is unclear. The child referred to the woman as his
"aunt" and "homeschool teacher, " while
the father referred to the woman at times as his
"friend, " his "roommate, " his
"taxi driver, " or his "care
taker." Also living in the home with the father,
the child, and the friend were the friend's
fiancé, the friend's twenty-year-old daughter, the
child's seventeen-year-old half-sister, five cats, one
kitten, and two dogs.
psychiatrist's letter explained that at the end of August
2016, the child was hospitalized for the second time that
year after the child again made threats of suicide and
self-harm, as well as threatening to harm others and animals.
After the second hospitalization, the psychiatrist consulted
other professionals that had been involved in the child's
treatment after the first hospitalization-the child's
outpatient therapist, the nurse practitioner (ARNP) that had
been treating the child and managing his various ...