IN THE INTEREST OF L.C. and K.C., Minor Children, A.C., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Clay County, Charles K.
Borth, District Associate Judge.
father appeals from termination of his parental rights to two
Michael H. Johnson of Johnson Law Firm, Spirit Lake, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Ditsworth of Ditsworth Law, Spirit Lake, guardian ad litem
for minor children.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., Vogel, J., and Blane, S.J.
father of L.C. and K.C., appeals the court's order
terminating his parental rights to his two children. Upon our
de novo review of the record, we affirm.
Standard of Review.
court reviews termination proceedings de novo. See In re
A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). When a juvenile
court relies on multiple statutory grounds to terminate a
parent's rights, we are at liberty to affirm its ruling
on any one of the supported grounds. See In re A.B.,
815 N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa 2012).
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 paramount
concern in termination proceedings is the best interests of
the child. In re L.L., 459 N.W.2d 489, 493 (Iowa
[T]he proper analysis under [Iowa Code chapter] 232 is first
for the court to determine if a ground for termination exists
under section 232.116(1) [(2018)]. If a ground exists, the
court may terminate a parent's parental rights. Iowa Code
§ 232.116(1). In considering whether to terminate,
"the court shall give primary consideration to the
child's safety, to the best placement for furthering the
long-term nurturing and growth of the child, and to the
physical, mental, and emotional condition and needs of the
child." Id. § 232.116(2). Any findings in
this regard should be contained in the judge's decision.
Finally, before terminating a parent's parental rights,
the court must consider if any of the exceptions contained in
section 232.116(3) allow the court not to terminate.
Id. § 232.116(3).
In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010).
II. Facts and Procedural Background.
January 12, 2017, a child protective assessment was initiated
by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) based on an
allegation that the father, A.C., and mother, H.B., got into
a physical fight-A.C. kicked H.B. in the stomach- in the
presence of L.C., who was six months old at the time. It was
also determined that A.C. and H.B. were using marijuana while
caring for L.C. L.C. was removed and placed in the custody of
his paternal grandmother. Following an uncontested hearing on
March 17, L.C. was adjudicated as a child in need of
assistance (CINA), under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b),
(c)(2), and (n) (2017). The court ordered L.C.'s custody
to remain with his paternal grandmother. A CINA dispositional
hearing was held on April 7, and the court again ordered L.C.
remain in the custody of his paternal grandmother subject to
protective supervision by DHS.
gave birth to K.C. in June 2017. Upon the State's
application for ex parte emergency removal filed June 12, the
court placed K.C. in the custody of DHS for placement in
family foster care, which took place directly from the
hospital. The court was later advised that
K.C.'s meconium test at birth was positive for marijuana.
Following an emergency removal hearing held on June 16, the
court ordered K.C. remain in the custody of DHS and continued
placement in family foster care. Following an adjudicatory
hearing on July 7, K.C. was adjudicated as a CINA under
section 232.2(6)(c)(2), (g), and (n). On August 18, the court
held a CINA review hearing in L.C.'s case and
simultaneous CINA dispositional hearing in K.C.'s case
and again ordered that custody of these children remain as
previously set. Timely CINA review hearings were held with
the children remaining in placement.
January 3, 2018, the State filed its petition to terminate
parental rights of A.C. and H.B. to L.C. and K.C. The
petition as to A.C. alleged termination was appropriate under
Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (l) (2018). Both
A.C. and H.B were properly served with the petition. After a
continuance, the termination hearing was held on February 27.
H.B. failed to attend the termination hearing, ...