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In re H.E.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 3, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF H.E., Minor Child, A.E., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Adam D. Sauer, District Associate Judge.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          Jane M. Wright, Forest City, for appellant.

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

          Crystal Leann Ely of McGuire Law Firm, Mason City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Doyle, J., and Blane, S.J. [*]

          BLANE, SENIOR JUDGE.

         The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, H.E., born in April 2016.[1] The juvenile court terminated her rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e) and (h) (2018). The mother maintains the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence, she should have been given additional time to work toward reunification, termination is not in the child's best interests, and the strength of the parent-child bond precludes termination.

         We review termination proceedings de novo. In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa 2012). We begin by considering the statutory grounds. "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." Id. at 774. We consider the grounds of section 232.116(1)(h), which allows the court to terminate parental rights if all of the following factors are met:

(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 section 232.102 at the present time.

         The mother challenges the fourth element-whether H.E. could be returned to her care at the time of the termination hearing. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(h)(4); Inre D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa 2010) (interpreting the term "at the present time" to mean "at the time of the termination hearing"). She asserts the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with H.E. See In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 493 (Iowa 2000) ("[T]he reasonable efforts requirement is not viewed as a strict substantive requirement of termination. Instead, the scope of the efforts by the [department of human services (DHS)] to reunify ...


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