IN THE INTEREST OF S.W., Minor Child, P.W., Father, Appellant, H.W., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt,
District Associate Judge.
mother and father appeal the termination of their parental
rights to their child. AFFIRMED ON BOTH
D. Dimitrova of Carr Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for
Barajas of Macro & Kozlowski, LLP, West Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. White of the Des Moines Juvenile Public Defender's
Office, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
father and mother separately appeal the termination of their
parental rights to S.W., born in July 2015. The father argues
the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence
that grounds for termination exist under Iowa Code section
232.116(1)(h) (2018). Both argue the district court should
have granted a six-month extension and should have found
termination was not in S.W.'s best interests. We find the
State has proved the grounds for termination by clear and
convincing evidence, a six-month extension would not have
extinguished the need for removal, and termination is in
S.W.'s best interests.
Background Facts and Proceedings
family first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of
Human Services (DHS) in April 2017 after the mother reported
a domestic assault to law enforcement. On April 19, the
mother and father, who are not married, visited the home of a
known drug dealer with S.W. in their vehicle. As the father
drove away from the home, he and the mother began to argue.
According to a report from law enforcement, the father
"became very aggressive and started driving erratically
and at high speeds," even "driving so fast his jeep
went onto 2 wheels while making turns." Additionally,
the mother stated the father held a knife to her throat as
they returned home. The next day, the mother contacted law
enforcement to report the incident and stated she waited to
report because she did not want to upset the guests in her
home. Law enforcement referred the case to DHS because S.W.
was in the car during this incident. The mother and father
admitted they were under the influence of methamphetamine at
was adjudicated as a child in need of assistance (CINA) on
June 22, 2017. After more than one year of offered services,
the State filed a petition to terminate parental rights on
July 26, 2018. A hearing was held on September 13. On
September 27, the district court found the State had proved
by clear and convincing evidence the grounds for termination
under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h). The mother and father
Standard of Review
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 . . . ." 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 ...