Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Iowa

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 232.102; 232.111; 232.116

The court may waive the requirement for making reasonable efforts when it determines that aggravated circumstances exist, as indicated by any of the following:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • Grounds for terminating parental rights apply to the child.
  • The parent's rights have been terminated in this or another State with respect to another child who is a member of the same family, and there is clear and convincing evidence to show that the offer or receipt of services would not be likely within a reasonable period of time to correct the conditions that led to the child's removal.
  • The parent has been convicted of the murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring in, or soliciting the commission of the murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury of the child or of another child of the parent.

A petition shall be filed under any of the following circumstances:

  • The child has been placed in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
  • A court has determined aggravated circumstances exist and has waived the requirement for making reasonable efforts.
  • The child is younger than 12 months of age and has been judicially determined to have been abandoned, or the child is a newborn infant whose parent has voluntarily released custody of the child in accordance with chapter 233.
  • The parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring in, or soliciting the commission of murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent.

The court may terminate a parent's rights on any of the grounds listed above. The court also may terminate parental rights for any of the following:

  • Services offered to the parent have failed to correct conditions that led to the child's abuse or neglect.
  • The child has been in out-of-home care for at least 6 months, and the parents have not maintained significant and meaningful contact with the child
  • A child who is age 4 or older has been in out-of-home care for at least 12 of the past 18 months and cannot safely be returned home.
  • A child who is age 3 or younger has been in out-of-home care for at least 6 of the past 12 months and cannot safely be returned home.
  • The parent is incarcerated for a crime against a child or is unlikely to be released from prison for 5 or more years.
  • The parent has a chronic mental illness, has been repeatedly institutionalized for mental illness, and presents a danger to self or others.
  • The parent has a severe substance-related disorder and presents a danger to self or others.
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony and imprisoned for physically or sexually abusing or neglecting any child in the household.
  • The parent has been convicted of child endangerment resulting in death or serious injury of any child in the household.
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony sex offense against a minor, the parent is divorced from or was never married to the minor's other parent, and the parent is serving a minimum sentence of confinement of at least 5 years for that offense.
  • The court finds there is clear and convincing evidence that the child was conceived as the result of sexual abuse, and the birth parent against whom the sexual abuse was perpetrated requests termination of the parental rights of the birth parent who perpetrated the sexual abuse.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.111

A petition to terminate parental rights is not required when any of the following apply:

  • At the option of the Department of Human Services or by order of the court, the child is being cared for by a relative.
  • The department has documented a compelling reason for determining that termination would not be in the best interests of the child. A compelling reason can include evidence that the family may achieve reunification within 6 months.
  • The department has not provided services within the timeframes indicated in the case plan.

The court need not terminate parental rights when any of the following apply:

  • A relative has legal custody of the child.
  • The child is over age 10 and objects to the termination.
  • There is clear and convincing evidence that termination would be detrimental to the child due to closeness of the parent-child relationship.
  • It is necessary to place the child in a hospital or other facility for care and treatment, and the continuation of the parent-child relationship is not preventing a permanent family placement for the child.
  • The absence of the parent is due to the parent's admission or commitment to any institution or health facility or due to active service in the State or Federal armed forces.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.117(10)

If a termination of parental rights order is issued on the grounds that the child is a newborn infant whose parent has voluntarily released custody of the child under § 232.116(1)(c), the court shall retain jurisdiction to change a guardian or custodian and to allow a parent whose rights have been terminated to request vacation or appeal of the termination order. Such request must be made within 30 days of issuance of the granting of the termination order. The period for request for vacation or appeal by a parent whose rights have been terminated shall not be waived or extended, and a vacation or appeal shall not be granted for a request made after the expiration of this period. The court shall grant the vacation request only if it is in the best interests of the child.