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In re J.D.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF J.D., T.D., CD., D.D., and E.R., Minor Children, S.B., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Montgomery County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children.

          Ivan E. Miller of Billings & Mensen, Red Oak, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          DeShawne L. Bird-Sell of Sell Law, PLC, Glenwood, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to five of her children. She contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. She also contends termination is contrary to the children's best interests and one of the statutory exceptions to termination applies. Finally, she contends the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family and requests the decision to terminate be delayed six months. We review her claims de novo. See In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472 (Iowa 2018).

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         This appeal concerns five children who ranged in age from four to thirteen years old at the time of termination. In May 2017, the juvenile court adjudicated the children to be in need of assistance (CINA) due to the mother's relationship with a registered sex offender, who married the mother in March 2017.[1] In the CINA order, the juvenile court noted that the mother "seemed to have a very hard time understanding why the court is concerned with [her husband] being around the children." When the mother continued to allow her husband to be around the children in violation of a no-contact order, the juvenile court removed the children from her care. Concerns were also raised about the suitability of the mother's home, which was cluttered with trash and debris, had a strong stench of animal urine, and was infested with cockroaches.

         The State filed a petition to terminate the mother's parental rights in May 2018. The matter came to a hearing on August 23, 2018. On September 7, 2018, the juvenile court entered an order terminating the mother's parental rights.

         II. Discussion.

         A. Grounds for termination.

         Before terminating parental rights, the juvenile court must find clear and convincing evidence supporting one of the grounds for termination listed under 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 mother's parental rights on the grounds listed in Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d) and (f). We may affirm the termination ...


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