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In re W.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF W.G. and T.G., Minor Children, C.R., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hancock County, Karen Kaufman Salic, District Associate Judge.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children. AFFIRMED.

          Theodore J. Hovda of Ted Hovda Law Office, Garner, for appellant mother.

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

          Philip L. Garland and Carrie J. Rodriguez of Garland & Rodriguez, Garner, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to W.G., born January 2004, and T.G., born March 2002. She argues the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that grounds for termination exist under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2018), termination is not in the best interests of the children, and there is a strong bond between her and the children that precludes termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(c). With years of services provided but little, if any, progress by the mother, we agree with the district court: the State proved the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence, termination is in the best interests of the children, and there is nothing precluding termination.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The family first came to the attention of Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in June 2015, upon concerns about drug usage by the parents leading to inadequate care of the children. On July 24, 2015, W.G. and T.G. were adjudicated as children in need of assistance (CINA).[1] For the next three years, the mother was provided a host of services, most of which she either refused or with which she failed to cooperate. The State filed a petition to terminate parental rights for each child in March 2018. On June 5, 2018, the district court found the State had proved by clear and convincing evidence the grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f). The mother appeals.[2]

         II. Standard of Review

         We review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo. In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016). "We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, but we do give them weight, especially in assessing the credibility of witnesses." In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). "We will uphold an order terminating parental rights if there is clear and convincing evidence of grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116." Id.; accord Iowa Code § 232.117(3) ("If the court concludes that facts sufficient to sustain the petition have been established by clear and convincing evidence, the court may order parental rights terminated."). "'Clear and convincing evidence' means 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).

         III. Grounds for Termination

         The mother argues the district court erred in finding the State proved by clear and convincing evidence that her parental rights should be terminated under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f). Specifically, she challenges the State's establishment of paragraph (4), that the children could not be returned to the mother's custody at the present time.[3] Moreover, she requests the ...


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