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In re G.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 3, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF G.B., Minor Child, M.B., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.

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

          Benjamin Hamel of Iowa Legal Aid, Dubuque, for appellant.

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

          Patricia Reisen-Ottavi, Dubuque, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., Mullins, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights in his son, G.B., born in 2018. He contends the district court erred in denying his request for additional time to work toward reunification, termination is not in the child's best interest, and his bond with G.B. should preclude termination.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         This family most recently came to the attention of the department of human services in June 2018 when the mother passed out while caring for B.G. and required emergency medical attention. She subsequently tested positive for methamphetamine. As a result, G.B. was removed from the mother's care. Because the father admitted to recent methamphetamine use, the child could not be placed with him. The juvenile court adjudicated G.B. a child in need of assistance.

         Initially, the father did not participate in services. He was jailed from July to November 2018. Following release, the father began a substance-abuse program and completed seven supervised visits with G.B. in November and December. However, his visitation became sporadic by mid-December.

         The State petitioned to terminate the parents' parental rights to G.B. in December. By early January 2019, the father was back in jail and tested positive for methamphetamine. Following a hearing, the juvenile court granted the petition to terminate parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g), (h), and (l) (2018). The father appeals.[1]

          II.Scope and Standard of Review

         Our review is de novo. See In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016). We are not bound by the juvenile court's factual findings, but we give them weight, especially when witness credibility is critical to the outcome. See id. Proof must be clear and convincing, meaning there are no "serious or substantial doubts as to the correctness [of] conclusions of law drawn from the evidence." In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). "[R]eview of termination of parental rights under Iowa Code chapter 232 is a three-step analysis." M.W., 876 N.W.2d at 219. First, we determine if "any ground for termination under section 232.116(1) has been established." Id. If a statutory ground authorizing termination has been established, then we consider whether termination in is the child's best interest. See id. at 219-20. "Finally, if we do find that the ...


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