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In re O.C.-M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF O.C.-M., Minor Child, D.C., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child. AFFIRMED

          Deborah L. Johnson of Deborah L. Johnson Law Office, P.C., Altoona, for appellant father.

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

          Paul White of Juvenile Public Defender, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., McDonald, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          CARR, SENIOR JUDGE.

         The father appeals the termination of his parental rights to O.C.-M. He argues the district court should have established a guardianship rather than terminating his parental rights because termination is not in the best interests of the child and a relative's legal custody of the child precluded termination. Due to a no-contact order that remains in effect until 2023 and the child's need for permanency, we find termination is in the best interests of the child and there is nothing precluding termination.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The Iowa Department of Human Services first became involved with this family at the time of O.C.-M.'s birth in July 2017 due to concerns the mother used drugs during the pregnancy. On or about December 5, the mother called police to report the father threatened to kill himself and O.C.-M. Police responded and discovered O.C.-M. with facial injuries. Two days later, the mother took O.C.-M. to the hospital with bruises on his face and abdomen, and he was diagnosed with skull fractures and hematoma. The father admitted to shaking O.C.-M. on December 5 and abusing various drugs. In addition, the mother reported the father has abused the child previously, including incidents when O.C.-M. was one month and four months old. On December 8, O.C.-M. was removed from his parents' care. Both parents were charged with felonies and no-contact orders were initiated. The no-contact orders remain in effect and are set to expire in 2023.

         Originally, O.C.-M. was placed in foster care; however, his maternal grandfather intervened and custody was transferred to him and his partner in July 2018. On September 20, the State filed a petition to terminate parental rights. At the November 7 hearing, both parents stipulated that the grounds for termination alleged under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018) existed, but they argued the district court should establish a guardianship with the maternal grandfather rather than terminate their parental rights. On November 26, the district court terminated both parents' parental rights. The father appeals.[1]

         II. Standard of Review

         Our review of termination-of-parental-rights proceedings is de novo. In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010). "We will uphold an order terminating parental rights if there is clear and convincing evidence of grounds for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116." In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). "'Clear and convincing evidence' means there are no serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness [of] conclusions of law drawn from the evidence." In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 492 (Iowa 2002).

         III. ...


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