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In re N.K.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF N.K., Minor Child, C.H., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Chickasaw County, David F. Staudt, Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her minor child. AFFIRMED.

          Thais Ann Folta of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty & Parrish, P.L.C., Decorah, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Andrew Thalacker of Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Waterloo, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to N.K., born in November 2015. The child was removed from the parents' care in August 2017 due to the death of N.K.'s sibling. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) placed N.K. in foster care, where N.K. remained at the time of the termination hearing. A hair-stat test of N.K. tested positive for methamphetamine, as did hair-stat tests of the parents. The parents were arrested in late October in connection with the death of N.K.'s sibling. They remained incarcerated at the time of the termination hearing. The juvenile court adjudicated N.K. to be a child in need of assistance in February 2018 due to the child's positive test for methamphetamine. The State filed a petition to terminate parental rights in July. The juvenile court subsequently terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (i) (2018). The mother appeals.[1]

         We review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo. In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472 (Iowa 2018). "We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, but we do give them weight, especially in assessing the credibility of witnesses." Id. (quoting In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014)). "Our primary concern is the best interests of the child." In re J.E., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006).

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) and (i). "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). Paragraph (h) allows the court to terminate parental rights if it finds all of the following have been established by clear and convincing evidence:

(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 trial period at home has been less than thirty days.
(4) There is clear and convincing evidence that the child cannot be returned to the custody of the child's parents as provided in ...

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