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In re S.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF S.L., Minor Child, D.D., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H. Liesveld, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his rights in his child.

          John D. Jacobsen of Jacobsen, Johnson and Wiezorek, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellant father.

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

          Julie F. Trachta of Linn County Advocate, Inc., Cedar Rapids, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          McDONALD, JUDGE.

         The juvenile court terminated Dominic's rights in his minor child, S.L. (age 23 months), pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018). In this appeal, Dominic claims there is insufficient evidence supporting the statutory ground authorizing the termination of his parental rights. He also claims termination of his parental rights is not in the child's best interest, his bond with the child should preclude termination of his rights, and he should be granted an additional six months to work toward reunification.

         We review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo. See In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014). The statutory framework authorizing the termination of a parent-child relationship is well established and need not be repeated in full herein. See In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472-73 (Iowa 2018) (setting forth the statutory framework). The burden is on the State to prove by clear and convincing evidence (1) the statutory ground or grounds authorizing the termination of parental rights and (2) termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child. See In re E.H., No. 17-0615, 2017 WL 2684420, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017).

         We first address Dominic's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h), the juvenile court may terminate parental rights when the State has proved by clear and convincing evidence each of the following:

(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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