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In re K.P.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF K.P. and A.B., Minor Children, J.P., Father of K.P., Appellant, B.B., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Monroe County, William Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother and father appeal the termination of their parental rights in their children.

          Michael S. Fisher of Fisher Law Office, Oskaloosa, for appellant father.

          Mary Baird Krafka of Krafka Law Office, Ottumwa, for appellant mother.

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

          Kevin S. Maughan of Maughan Law Office, Albia, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          MCDONALD, JUDGE.

         The juvenile court terminated Brooklyn and Joseph's parental rights in their child, K.P., pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018). The juvenile court also terminated Brooklyn's rights in her child, A.B., pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f). A.B. is Brooklyn's child from another father. A.B.'s father does not appeal the termination of his parental rights. In this appeal, Brooklyn claims there is insufficient evidence supporting the statutory grounds authorizing the termination of her parental rights in K.P. and A.B. Both parents claim the termination of their parental rights is not in the best interest of their respective children.

         K.P. and A.B. first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services ("IDHS") when A.B. was admitted to the emergency room with bruising on his cheeks, chest, arms, legs, buttocks, and under his face. IDHS founded a report for physical abuse. IDHS also entered into a safety plan with Brooklyn. Pursuant to the safety plan, Joseph would not be allowed to supervise A.B. However, Joseph continued to supervise the child. In June 2016, A.B. was lacerated on his chin while in the care of Joseph. The laceration was three centimeters long and required sutures. IDHS performed drug testing on A.B. The child tested positive for exposure to marijuana.

         The juvenile court subsequently adjudicated the children in need of assistance.

         IDHS continued to provide services to Brooklyn and Joseph with the goal of returning the children to their care. The parents continued to make progress, and visitation advanced to unsupervised overnight visitation with the expectation the children would be returned to the parents' care.

         The permanency goal changed to termination of parental rights following an incident of physical abuse to A.B. In February 2018, Joseph and Brooklyn had unsupervised visitation with the children for several days. After that visit, A.B. exhibited visible bruising, prompting IDHS to initiate an examination. The examining physician noted adult hand marks around A.B.'s neck, an adult bite mark on one buttock, and bruising on A.B.'s penis. IDHS investigated the incident and founded a report of abuse.

         Upon the State's petition, the juvenile court terminated the parents' rights, and the parents timely filed this appeal. We review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014); In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). However, "[w]e give weight to the findings of the juvenile court, particularly with respect to the credibility of witnesses." In re B.N., No. 00-0220, 2001 WL 57987, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan 24, 2001); accord D.W., 791 N.W.2d at 706. The statutory framework authorizing the termination of a parent-child relationship is well established. See In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472-73 (Iowa 2018) (setting forth the statutory framework). The burden is on the State to prove by clear and convincing evidence (1) the statutory ground or grounds authorizing ...


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