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In re E.L.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF E.L.A., Minor Child, A.L., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert A. Hutchison, Judge.

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

AFFIRMED. Tammi M. Blackstone of Harrison & Dietz-Kilen, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant mother.

Karen A. Taylor of Taylor Law Offices, Des Moines, for appellee father.

Jessica Chandler of Chandler Law Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Danilson, JJ.

DOYLE, J.

A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights, challenging the grounds for termination found by the district court. Upon our de novo review, we find clear and convincing evidence supports termination under Iowa Code section 600A.8(3) (2011), and we conclude severing the child's relationship with his biological mother serves the child's best interests. We therefore affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

A.L. is the mother and P.J.A. is the father of E.L.A., born in 2004. Following a 2006 contested-custody trial, an order was entered awarding the father sole legal and physical custody of the child. The mother was awarded "reasonable visitation rights" as could be agreed between the parties. In a follow-up order entered in October 2006, the mother was awarded limited visitation.

In 2012, the father filed his petition for termination of the mother's parental rights. The mother resisted. Following a trial, the district court entered its order terminating the mother's parental rights, finding (1) she abandoned the child by failing to maintain substantial and continuous contact with the minor child (600A.8(3)(b)); (2) she failed to provide financial support for the child (600A.8(4)); and (3) the termination of her parental rights was in the child's best interests (600A.1).

The mother now appeals. She contends the district court erred in determining that there was sufficient evidence to establish she abandoned the child in accordance with Iowa Code section 600A.8(3)(b).[1] Our review is de novo. In re M.M.S., 502 N.W.2d 4, 5 (Iowa 1993). While the court is not bound by the district court's factual findings, we give weight to them, especially when considering credibility of witnesses. In re R.K.B., 572 N.W.2d 600, 601 (Iowa 1998).

II. Discussion.

A petition for termination of parental rights under this chapter must be established by clear and convincing proof. Iowa Code § 600A.8; In re Kelley, 262 N.W.2d 781, 784 (Iowa 1978). If termination is founded upon more than one statutory ground, we will affirm if one ground has been proven by clear and convincing evidence. In re B.L.A., 357 N.W.2d 20, 22 (Iowa 1984). The best interests of the child "shall be the paramount consideration" while also ...


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