IN THE INTEREST OF A.W., Z.H., Z.W., and Z.W., Minor Children, D.H., Mother, Appellant, A.W., Minor Child, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F.
mother and a child appeals the termination of the
mother's parental rights.
L. Schroeder of The Sayer Law Group, P.C., Waterloo, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Melissa A. Anderson-Seeber of Juvenile Public Defender's,
Waterloo, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children
Z.H, Z.W., and Z.W. and attorney for A.W.
Heather Feldkamp of Feldkamp Law Office, Waterloo, guardian
ad litem for minor child A.W.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
Vaitheswaran, Presiding Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to four
of her seven children, born in 2006, 2012, 2014, and 2017.
She contends (1) the State failed to prove the grounds for
termination cited by the district court; (2) the district
court should have granted her additional time to work towards
reunification; (3) termination is not in the children's
best interests; and (4) the district court should have placed
the oldest child in a guardianship with the child's
maternal grandmother. The oldest child also appeals the
termination decision. She argues the court should not have
terminated her mother's parental rights and should have
placed her in a guardianship with her maternal grandmother.
Grounds for Termination
district court terminated the mother's parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(e), (f), and (h)
(2018). We may affirm if we find clear and convincing
evidence to support any of the grounds cited by the court.
In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa
2010). We elect to focus on subsections (f) and (h), which
are identical but for the ages of the children and the time
the children must have been removed from the parent's
care. Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(f), (h). Subsection (f)
requires proof the child is four or older. Id.
§ 232.116(1)(f)(1). Subsection (h) requires proof the
child is three or younger. Id. §
232.116(1)(h)(1). The court terminated the mother's
parental rights to the oldest child under subsection (f) and
the remaining three children under subsection (h). Both
subsections require proof the child cannot be returned to the
parent's custody. Id. § 232.116(1)(f)(4),
begin with the children's ages. The oldest child clearly
fell within the age parameters of subsection (f) and the
youngest two children clearly fell within the parameters of
subsection (h). The third child was three when the
termination petition was filed but turned four several days
before the termination hearing. The district court noted that
the child was four but invoked section 232.116(1)(h) rather
than (f) to terminate the mother's parental rights to
determined at the time of the termination hearing. See In
re N.N.,692 N.W.2d 51, 53 (Iowa Ct. App. 2004)
(examining ages "at the time of the termination
hearing"). Under similar circumstances, we entered a
limited remand order to allow the State to plead the correct
age provision. See In re M.T.,613 N.W.2d 690, 693
(Iowa Ct. App. 2000). Here, we need not employ the same
procedure because the State pled both age provisions and the
district court found the child was three but turned four. In