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In re J.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF J.R., Minor Child, L.R., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          Aaron H. Ginkens of Ginkens Law Firm, P.L.C., West Des Moines, for appellant mother.

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

          Lynn Vogan of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          McDONALD, Judge.

         The juvenile court terminated Laina's rights in her child, J.R. (age 3), pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (i) (2018). In this appeal, Laina claims there is insufficient evidence supporting the statutory grounds authorizing the termination of her parental rights. She also claims termination of her parental rights is not in the child's best interest and her bond with the child should preclude termination.

         We review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). 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 the termination of parental rights and (2) termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child. See In re E.H., No. 17-0615, 2017 WL 2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017).

         We first address Laina's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the statutory grounds authorizing termination of her parental rights. "When the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile court's order on any ground we find supported by the record." In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa 2012). We choose to address the sufficiency of the evidence supporting section 232.116(1)(h).

         Under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h), the juvenile court may terminate parental rights when:

(1) The child is three years of age or younger.
(2) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant to section 232.96.
(3) The child has been removed from the physical custody of the child's parents for at least six months of the last twelve months, or for the last six consecutive months and any ...

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