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In re F.E.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF F.E., L.E., and J.E., Minor Children, C.E., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Cheryl Traum, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his children.

          Christine Frederick of Zamora, Taylor, Woods, & Frederick, Davenport, for appellant father.

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

          Jack E. Dusthimer, Davenport, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his children, J.E., L.E., and F.E., born in 2009, 2012, and 2014, respectively. He contends termination is not in the best interests of the children. Upon our review, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         This family came to the attention of the department of human services following physical abuse of the children by the father.[1] The parents voluntarily agreed to the children's removal in 2015. They were offered visitation with the children but "didn't think that that was right at that time." At the time, the parents were without housing. The State petitioned to have the children adjudicated in need of assistance, and the juvenile court granted the petition. The children were returned to the parents' care in April 2017 but were removed in September 2017, upon the court's finding that the children were "in immediate physical danger."

         Eventually, the children's guardian ad litem petitioned to terminate the parents' parental rights to the children. Following a hearing, the court granted the petition pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(b), (d), (e), and (f) (2018).[2] The father appeals.[3]

         II. Scope and Standard of Review

         "[R]eview of termination of parental rights under Iowa Code chapter 232 is a three-step analysis." In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016). We first determine if "any ground for termination under section 232.116(1) has been established." Id. If a "ground for termination has been established, then we determine whether the best-interest framework as laid out in section 232.116(2) supports the termination of parental rights." Id. at 219-20. "Finally, if we do find that the statutory best-interest framework supports the termination of parental rights, we consider whether any exceptions in section 232.116(3) apply to preclude termination of parental rights." Id. at 220. We review termination of parental rights proceedings de novo. In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).

         III. ...


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