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In re H.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 26, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF H.S., Minor Child, N.C., Mother, Appellant, H.S., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Harrison County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

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

          Sara E. Benson of Benson Law, P.C., Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

          Justin R. Wyatt of Woods & Wyatt, PLLC, Glenwood, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant Attorney General for appellee State.

          William T. Early, Harlan, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE

         A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child. Both challenge the juvenile court's findings that the State proved the grounds for termination and termination is in the child's best interests. The mother also argues the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with the child.

         We review termination proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). 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 came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) after testing positive for cocaine at birth. The mother agreed to a temporary guardianship for the child, and the State removed the child from the mother's care when the guardianship ended. At the time of the termination hearing, the mother was still attempting to complete drug treatment. The child has not been in her care since December 2016.

         The father's paternity had not been established when the juvenile court proceedings began. Although a DHS worker told the father the child needed a permanency decision and plan within six months due to the child's young age and that his limited participation would be detrimental to the child, the father refused to participate in visits with the child or other services until paternity was established.

         I. Grounds for Termination.

         The juvenile court found clear and convincing evidence supported terminating both the mother's and the father's parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2017).[1] Termination is appropriate under this ...


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