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In re S.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 19, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF S.A., Minor Child, M.A., Father, Appellant, T.K., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda Belcher, District Associate Judge.

         The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.

          Jeremy M. Evans of Carr Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant father. Stephen K. Allison, Berwick, and Shawn Smith, Ames, for appellant mother.

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

          ConGarry D. Williams, Juvenile Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         The mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights to their daughter, S.A., who was born in December 2015. S.A. was removed from their custody in April 2017 after police were called to the family home in response to a domestic-violence incident. In November 2018, the juvenile court terminated both the mother's and the father's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018). Both parents argue the State has not shown by clear and convincing evidence that S.A. cannot be returned to them. Additionally, the mother argues the juvenile court should have granted her a deferral of permanency for six months instead of terminating her parental rights.

         I. Standard of Review.

         We review termination cases de novo. In re L.T., 924 N.W.2d 521, 526 (Iowa 2019). "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." In re A.M., 843 N.W.2d 100, 110 (Iowa 2014).

         II. Discussion.

         We use a three-step analysis to review termination of parental rights:

First, we "determine whether any ground for termination under section 232.116(1) has been established." If we determine "that a ground for termination has been established, then we determine whether the best-interest framework as laid out in section 232.116(2) supports the termination of parental rights." Finally, if we conclude the statutory best-interest framework supports termination, "we consider whether any exceptions ...

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