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In re M.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 6, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF M.L., Minor Child, M.L., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          Randall L. McNaughton, Davenport, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Timothy J. Tupper of Tupper Law Firm, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ. Tabor, J., takes no part.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child. She contends the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunite her with the child. She also contends termination is not in the child's best interests.

         We review termination proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). In doing so, we are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, although we give them weight, especially those concerning witness credibility. See id.

         The child was born to two mothers in 2013.[1] The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with the family in 2015 due to concerns about the biological mother's substance abuse and domestic violence in the home. The child was initially placed in the care of the mother of the biological mother. In early 2017, custody was transferred to the legal mother.

         The biological mother was incarcerated in July 2016 and remained incarcerated at the time of the termination hearing. During her incarceration, the mother's behavior prevented her from taking the classes required to be released from prison, extending the length of her incarceration. Her behavior also prevented her from participating in scheduled phone calls with the child.

         The State petitioned to terminate the biological mother's parental rights in November 2017. In a report to the juvenile court, the guardian ad litem recommended terminating the biological mother's parental rights. The termination hearing was held in February 2018. The following month, the juvenile court entered an order terminating the mother's parental rights.

         In order to terminate parental rights, the juvenile court must first find clear and convincing evidence supporting one of the grounds for termination listed under Iowa Code section 232.116(1) (2017). See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). The juvenile court found the State met its burden of proving the grounds for termination set forth in section 232.116(1)(d), (e), (f), and (l). We need only find grounds to terminate parental rights under one of the sections cited by the juvenile court to affirm. Se ...


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