IN THE INTEREST OF O.C.-M., Minor Child, D.C., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt,
District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
Deborah L. Johnson of Deborah L. Johnson Law Office, P.C.,
Altoona, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
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.
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.
Background Facts and Proceedings
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.
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.
Standard of Review
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).