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In re M.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF M.L., Minor Child, I.L., Father, Appellant, A.F., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F. Staudt, Judge.

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

          Mark A. Milder of Mark Milder Law Firm, Waverly, for appellant father.

          Stephanie A. Sailer of Sailer Law, PLLC, Cedar Falls, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Andrew C. Abbott of Abbott Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          DOYLE, Judge.

         A mother and a father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their child. The mother contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence and termination is not in the child's best interests. Both parents request additional time.

         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 was born in October 2017 and removed from the parents' care shortly thereafter due to concerns about the parents' mental health and lack of parenting skills. Additionally, there were concerns about the father's difficulty managing his anger and his history of engaging in domestic violence. As a result, the child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(n) (2017) (defining a CINA as a child whose parent's "mental capacity or condition . . . results in the child not receiving adequate care"). Following a permanency hearing in April 2018, the juvenile court entered an order directing the State to file a petition seeking to terminate parental rights, citing the parents' lack of parenting skills and various safety concerns. The termination hearing was held in July 2018, and the juvenile court entered an order terminating the parental rights of both parents pursuant to section 232.116(1)(h) (2018).

         The juvenile court may enter an order terminating a parent's rights if clear and convincing evidence shows:

(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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