IN THE INTEREST OF M.E., Minor Child, M.S., Mother, Appellant, L.E., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Jackson County, Phillip J.
Tabor, District Associate Judge.
William A. Lansing of William A. Lansing, P.C., Dubuque, for
Elizabeth A. Srp of Srp Law, PLC, Clinton, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Raker and Stuart Hoover, Dubuque, attorneys and guardians ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Tabor, J., takes no part.
mother and a father separately appeal the termination of
their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH
father, and M.S., mother, separately appeal the juvenile
court decision terminating their parental rights to their
child, M.E., born in August 2017. The father contends the
juvenile court should have established a guardianship rather
than terminating his parental rights. The mother contends the
State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify her with
M.E. and also argues the court erred in denying her request
to order a guardianship. We affirm on both appeals.
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo. In
re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 773 (Iowa 2012).
child was removed from the mother's care while the father
was in jail in September 2018 based on concerns of domestic
violence and illegal substance use by both parents. Both
parents were using methamphetamine and the child tested
positive for that substance. The father had abused drugs for
about a decade. The mother, too, had an acknowledged
child was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) on
September 17. The child was placed with the mother's
sister, who also has two children, ages four and eight, with
M.E.'s father. A permanency and termination of parental
rights hearing was held on May 20, 2019. In the intervening
eight months, for all but about twenty days, each parent was
in treatment, in jail, or evading arrest warrants. After
eight consecutive months, neither parent had successfully
completed substance-abuse treatment. At the time of the
termination hearing, the father was in substance-abuse
treatment to avoid additional jail time and the mother was in
jail; consequently, the child could not be returned to either
parent. The court may order the termination of a parent's
rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2019) if it
finds the child is three years old or younger, has been
adjudicated CINA, has been out of the parents' custody
for at least six consecutive months, and clear and convincing
evidence establishes the child cannot be returned to the
parents' custody at the time. We find the elements for
termination under section 232.116(1)(h) were established by
clear and convincing evidence.
not address the mother's claims concerning reasonable
efforts as they were not timely made in the juvenile
court. We will not review a reasonable-efforts
claim unless it is raised prior to the termination hearing.
See In re L.M.W., 518 N.W.2d 804, 807 (Iowa Ct. App.
1994) (stating a party challenging reasonable efforts must do
so prior to the termination hearing).
reject both parents' assertions that a guardianship was
more appropriate than termination of parental rights in light
of-as the mother argues- the "intertwined nature of the
proposed adoptive family." It is the parent resisting
termination who bears the burden to establish an exception to
termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(a). In re
A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 476 (Iowa 2018). Here, both
parents requested a guardianship. The guardian ad litem and
service providers recommended termination of parental rights.
The juvenile court considered guardianship and determined
that while it could not "change the family
dynamics," it could ...