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In re K.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF K.L., Minor Child, V.S., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W. Seidlin, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child. AFFIRMED.

          Blake D. Lubinus of Lubinus Law Firm, PLLC, Des Moines, for appellant mother.

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

          Kimberly Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child. The sole question presented on appeal is whether termination is in the child's best interests. For the reasons that follow, we find it is and affirm the termination of the mother's parental rights.

         The child was born in 2016. In September 2017, the child was removed from the mother and was adjudicated to be a child in need of assistance (CINA) because of the mother's substance-abuse and mental-health issues. The child was placed in the care of the father. Despite the offer of services to address her substance abuse and mental health, the mother's issues remained unresolved at the time of the August 2018 termination hearing.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018). The mother does not dispute termination is appropriate under this section but instead argues termination is contrary to the child's best interests. We review her claim de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). We give weight to the juvenile court's factual findings, although they are not binding. See id.

         The court may terminate parental rights if one of the grounds for termination under section 232.116(1) exists. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 39 (Iowa 2010). In determining whether to terminate parental rights, the court must "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. (quoting Iowa Code § 232.116(2)).

         The juvenile court determined that the child's best interests would be served by remaining in the father's care. It also set forth its reasons for finding the child's best interests necessitated terminating the mother's parental rights:

Sadly, [the mother]'s behavior and conduct over the past several years, including over the course of the CINA proceedings, makes clear that any contact that she would have with [the child] would have to be fully supervised for an extensive period of time, possibly until the child is old enough to be able to fully protect herself, many years from now. Managing the who and how of that supervision (other than, perhaps, phone calls, emails, cards and letters) would be extremely difficult for [the father]. Further, inconsistent or sporadic contact with her mother, the kind that comes with a cycle of substance abuse, un-medicated mental health disorders, hospitalizations and/or incarcerations, has been and ...

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