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In re A.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.G., Minor Child, D.S., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E. Seymour, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals from an order terminating his parental rights in his child pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232 (2018). AFFIRMED.

          Elena M. Greenberg of Glazebrook & Hurd, LLP, Des Moines, for appellant father.

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

          Paul L. White, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.

          McDONALD, JUDGE.

         Dylan appeals the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights in his daughter, A.G., pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e), (g), (h) and (k) (2018). The mother of the child at issue does not appeal. Dylan contends the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence the statutory grounds authorizing termination of his parental rights. He also argues termination of his parental rights is not in the best interest of the child.

         We review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). We give due regard to the factual findings of the juvenile court, but, ultimately, we adjudicate the rights of the parties anew. See In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 733 (Iowa 2001); In re D.S., 806 N.W.2d 458, 465 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011).

         The legal framework governing chapter 232 proceedings is well established. The State must prove by clear and convincing evidence one or more statutory grounds authorizing the termination of a parent's rights and must prove termination of the parent's rights is in the best interest of the child. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1), (2); In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010). Even when the State proves its case, however, the juvenile court has the discretion to preserve the parent-child relationship when the parent proves by clear and convincing evidence a statutory factor allowing preservation of the parent-child relationship. See Iowa Code § 232.116(3) (setting forth permissive factors to avoid the termination of parental rights); In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 476 (Iowa 2018) (stating it is the parent's burden to prove an exception to termination). Evidence is clear and convincing when "there are no serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness of conclusions of law drawn from the evidence." In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2000).

         In this case, the juvenile court ordered Dylan's parental rights be terminated pursuant to section 232.116(1)(e), (g), (h) and (k). Where, as here, the juvenile court terminated a parent's rights on more than one statutory ground, we may affirm the order if we find clear and convincing evidence to support any one of the statutory grounds. See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010).

         We focus our attention on section 232.116(1)(g). This provision authorizes the juvenile court to terminate a parent's rights upon clear and convincing evidence of the following:

(1) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant to section 232.96.
(2) The court has terminated parental rights pursuant to section 232.117 with respect to another child who is a member of the same family or a court of competent jurisdiction in another state has entered an order involuntarily terminating parental rights ...

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