IN THE INTEREST OF M.M., Minor Child, K.C., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals a district court order terminating her
parental rights to her child. AFFIRMED.
Warutere, Clive, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State. Brent M. Pattison of
Drake Legal Clinic, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
juvenile court terminated parental rights to a child, born in
2015. The court of appeals reversed the termination decision
as to the mother after finding insufficient evidence to
support the ground for termination cited by the court.
See In re M.M., No. 17-0237, 2017 WL 2461889, at *3
(Iowa Ct. App. June 7, 2017). The court remanded the matter
for further proceedings. Id. On remand, the juvenile
court again terminated the mother's parental rights. The
mother contends the State failed to prove the grounds for
termination cited by the juvenile court. We may affirm if we
find clear and convincing evidence to support either of the
grounds. See In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 707 (Iowa
2010). We focus on Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2018),
which requires proof of several elements, including proof the
child cannot be returned to the mother's custody.
circumstances precipitating State intervention in 2015 were
described in this court's prior opinion. We stated the
original "case was initiated following a single incident
of domestic violence between the father and the mother . . .
and perpetrated by the father." M.M., 2017 WL
2461889, at *2. After the incident, the court noted that the
mother "relocated from Iowa to live with her mother in
Missouri" and "chose to relocate to obtain a fresh
start and have a safer environment for herself and her
children." Id. The court acknowledged,
"[T]he mother made false representations to the
department of human services and the juvenile court regarding
her relationship with the father," denying "any
ongoing relationship with the father while she maintained a
covert relationship with him." Id. Nonetheless,
the court determined, "[T]he State ignore[d] credible
evidence the mother . . . sought to improve her life,
generally, and address the risk of domestic violence."
Id. at *3.
same time, the court found insufficient evidence to show the
father "pose[d] a material risk of harm to the
child." The court reasoned as follows:
This case arose out of a single incident of domestic abuse.
While any single incident is one too many, we are not
presented with a case where the father has a lengthy history
of violence. The mother has moved away from the father. The
mother has obtained insight into issues of domestic violence,
including prevention and coping mechanisms. She resides with
her family and has an additional layer of protection because
of them . . . . [A Missouri] social worker also testified she
did not have any concerns the father was in Missouri with the
remand, the department of human services adopted the goal of
reunifying mother and child and pursued the goal for more
than one year. The mother participated in reunification
services and made so much progress in joint therapy sessions
with her child that the department explored weekend visits at
the mother's home. Shortly thereafter, the mother
curtailed contact with the child for two months and made a
single phone call in the third month. She continued her
disengagement and, in time, the State filed a second petition
to terminate her parental rights. As noted, the juvenile
court granted the termination petition. The court found:
Despite the extensive services offered, the mother has
continued to engage in unsafe relationships to include her
relationship with this child's biological father who
continues to have unresolved domestic violence issues. The
mother has blatantly lied about her relationships a[nd] has
repeatedly been dishonest while under oath. At this point,
her statements cannot be trusted given the variety of
different things she has lied about. She continues to lack
insight as to who are unsafe persons. Perhaps most