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In re E.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF E.G., Minor Child, M.B., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Craig M. Dreismeier, District Associate Judge.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          Amanda Heims, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit and John McCormally (until withdrawal), Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

          Roberta J. Megel of State Public Defender's Office, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, E.G., who was born in 2006.[1] The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (f) (2018). The mother maintains the statutory grounds for termination have not been met as the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with her child and the close bond she shares with E.G. precludes termination.

         We review termination proceedings de novo. In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa 2012). We begin by considering the statutory grounds. "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." Id. at 774. We consider the grounds of section 232.116(1)(f), which allows the court to terminate parental rights if all of the following are met:

(1) The child is four years of age or older.
(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 twelve of the last eighteen months, or for the last twelve consecutive months and any trial period at home has been less than thirty days.
(4) There is clear and convincing evidence that at the present time the child cannot be returned to the custody of the child's parents as provided in section 232.102.

         The mother challenges the fourth element-whether E.G. could be returned to her care at the time of the termination hearing. See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010) (interpreting the term "at the present time" to mean "at the time of the termination hearing"). She asserts the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with E.G. See In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 493 (Iowa 2000) ("[T]he reasonable efforts requirement is not viewed as a strict substantive requirement of termination. Instead, the scope of the efforts by the [department of human services] to ...


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