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In re M.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 19, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF M.S., Minor Child, M.S., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Angela L. Doyle, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child. AFFIRMED.

          Douglas Cook of Cook Law Firm, Jewell, for appellant father.

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

          Neven J. Conrad of Baker, Johnsen, Sandblom & Lemmenes, Humboldt, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child.[1] He contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. He also contends that termination is contrary to the child's best interests and asks for additional time to reunite with the child. We review these claims de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).

         The child was born in 2014 and came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in July 2015. At the time, the child lived with the mother, who reported that the father had only one contact with the child in the first eighteen months of the child's life. Although the father did not begin participating in services offered by the DHS until the child was removed from the mother's care in November 2016, his visitation gradually expanded to include overnight and weekend visitation, and a trial home visit beginning in April 2017. In May 2017, the juvenile court placed the child in the father's care under the supervision of the DHS. However, this placement ended in November 2017 after the father lost his housing and signed an agreement to place the child in foster care while he located new housing. When the father failed to obtain housing by the time the agreement expired in February 2018, the juvenile court removed the child from his care.

         The record shows the father has had limited contact with the child since November 2017. Since that time, the father has had four visits with the child: one in December of 2017 and on March 27, April 3, and July 11 of 2018. The State filed a petition to terminate the father's parental rights, and the termination hearing occurred in August 2018. The juvenile court entered an order terminating his parental rights in October 2018, and the father appealed.

         Before terminating parental rights, the juvenile court must find clear and convincing evidence supporting one of the grounds for termination listed under Iowa Code section 232.116(1) (2018). See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). The juvenile court found clear and convincing evidence supported the grounds for termination of the father's parental rights on the grounds listed in section 232.116(1)(b) and (e). We may affirm the termination if clear and convincing evidence supports one of these grounds. See In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999).

         The grounds for termination under section 232.116(1)(e) are met when clear and convincing evidence establishes the following:

(1) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant to section 232.96.
(2) The child has been removed from the physical custody of the child's parents for a period of at least ...

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