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In the Interest of M.C.


January 9, 2013


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Virginia A. Cobb, District Associate Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vogel, J.

A mother appeals the district court's order terminating her parental rights. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

A mother, Nicole, appeals the district court's order terminating her parental rights to her son, M.C., born 2011.*fn1 She contends the district court abused its discretion in not granting the continuance her attorney requested, and the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence three of the four statutory grounds for termination. She also argues two of the considerations found in Iowa Code section 232.116(3) (2011) should prevent termination.

Generally we review termination of parental rights cases de novo. In re C.W., 554 N.W.2d 279, 281 (Iowa Ct. App. 1996). We, however, review a motion for continuance under an abuse of discretion standard and will only reverse if injustice will result to the party desiring the continuance; denial of a motion to continue must be unreasonable under the circumstances before we will reverse. Id.

Nicole's parental rights were terminated pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(b) (clear and convincing evidence the child has been abandoned or deserted); (d) (adjudicated child in need of assistance (CINA) for physical abuse/neglect, circumstances continue despite services); (e) (child CINA, child removed for six months, parent has not maintained significant and meaningful contact with the child); (h) (child three or younger, adjudicated CINA, removed from home for six of last twelve months, and child cannot be returned home).

Nicole argues the district court erred in denying her motion for a continuance of the termination hearing. Nicole was in the courtroom on the day of the termination hearing and chose to leave before the proceeding started.*fn2

Her attorney then requested to withdraw as counsel, and in the event the withdrawal was allowed, she requested a continuance to allow Nicole to obtain other counsel. The State and M.C.'s guardian ad litem and attorney all opposed the continuance. The motion to withdraw was denied, and the hearing was held as scheduled. We believe that denying the motion to continue was wholly reasonable, especially considering the facts-Nicole's voluntary and sudden decision to leave the courtroom proceedings-surrounding why the request was made. The district court did not abuse its discretion.

Regarding the merits of her appeal, Nicole claims there was not clear and convincing evidence as to the statutory requirements for termination and the considerations in Iowa Code section 232.116(3)(a) and (c) should have been applied to prevent termination. Because she was not at the hearing, Nicole did not object to the evidence presented, offer her own evidence, or raise any issue before the district court.*fn3 As a general rule, an issue not presented in the juvenile court may not be raised for the first time on appeal. In re T.J.O., 527 N.W.2d 417, 420 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994). Because Nicole did not present any evidence or lodge any objection alerting the juvenile court to her complaints, she has not preserved error for our review.*fn4

Our primary concern is the child's best interests. In re J.W., 723 N.W.2d 793, 798 (Iowa 2006). M.C. has been residing with his paternal great-aunt and great-uncle since he was removed from his parents' care when he was just shy of five months old. They are willing and able to adopt him. The district court made a record about its belief that the custodians are appropriate caregivers and we agree. Termination of Nicole's parental rights is in M.C.'s best interests.


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