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In the Interest of B.L.S.

January 24, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF B.L.S., MINOR CHILD, M.S., FATHER, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Gary P. Strausser, District Associate Judge.

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

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child. He contends the State failed to prove the grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. He also contends termination is not in the child's best interests.

Because clear and convincing evidence shows the father has abandoned the child, and termination is in the child's best interests, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

The child was born in March 2007 and resided with the mother. Although the exact dates are in dispute, the father had custody of the child for a period of months in 2009 before the child was returned to the mother following a custody dispute.

The child came to the attention of the Department of Human Services (DHS) in November 2009. The child was removed from the mother's care in June 2010. The father was never served with notice of the child in need of assistance (CINA) proceedings, but spoke to the mother in September 2010 and knew the child was in a family placement-although the father thought the child was with a different relative. The father did not have contact with the child thereafter.

The father is currently incarcerated in Mississippi for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver; his date of discharge was unknown at the time of the hearing. He was contacted by the DHS in February 2012. He sent one letter to the DHS worker in February 2012 but did not contact the DHS thereafter. Nor did the father contact the child.

The State filed an amended petition seeking to terminate the father's parental rights on July 23, 2012. The termination hearing was held in August 2012. The father testified by phone. On October 19, 2012, the juvenile court filed its order terminating the father's parental rights.

II. Scope and Standard of Review.

We review termination of parental rights proceedings de novo. In re D.S., 806 N.W.2d 458, 465 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). While we are not bound by the juvenile court's fact-findings, we do give them weight, especially when assessing witness credibility. Id.

We will uphold a termination order if clear and convincing evidence supports the grounds for termination under section 232.116. Id. Evidence is "clear and convincing" where there are no "serious or substantial doubts as to the ...


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