Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re M.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 24, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF M.M., Minor Child, K.C., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E. Seymour, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals a district court order terminating her parental rights to her child. AFFIRMED.

          Agnes Warutere, Clive, for appellant mother.

          Thomas 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.

         The 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 appealed.

         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.

         The 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.

         At the 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 mother.

Id.

         Following 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.