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In re D.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 11, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF D.B., Minor Child, W.H., Mother, Petitioner-Appellee, N.B., Father, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Michael G. Dieterich, District Associate Judge.

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

          William R. Monroe of the Law Office of William Monroe, Burlington, for appellant father.

          Michael D. Clark of Clark & Schroeder, P.L.L.C., North Liberty, for appellee mother.

          Reyna L. Wilkens of Wilkens Law Office, Fort Madison, for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., McDonald, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, Senior Judge.

         A father appeals from the termination of his parental rights under Iowa Code section 600A.8(3) (2015).[1]

         Under chapter 600A, the court is allowed to terminate parental rights in the best interest of a child when a parent fails to assume the duties arising from parenthood. Iowa Code § 600A.1. In a private termination-of-parental-rights proceeding, the petitioner must establish by clear and convincing evidence that a statutory ground for termination exists, see id. § 600A.8, and that termination of parental rights is in the child's best interests. See id. § 600A.1.

         The mother and father of D.B., born in 2007, have never been married. The father has paid no child support since September 2013 and is more than $8200 in arrears in his obligation. In 2015, the mother filed a petition to terminate the father's parental rights, alleging he had abandoned the child as that term is used in chapter 600A.8(3)(b).

         As relevant here, section 600A.8(3)(b) deems a parent to have abandoned a child "unless the parent maintains substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child as demonstrated by contribution toward support of the child of a reasonable amount, according to the parent's means" and as demonstrated by either of the following:

(1) Visiting the child at least monthly when physically and financially able to do so and when not prevented from doing so by the person having lawful custody of the child.
(2)Regular communication with the child or with the person having the care or custody of the child, when physically and financially unable to visit the child or when prevented from visiting the child by the person having lawful custody of the child.

         Despite the father's child-support obligation being reduced to forty dollars per month, [2] the father has paid no support at all since September 19, 2013. The record fully supports the juvenile court's findings that the father does not have a stable home; is not employed, though capable of some employment; has not provided for the needs of the child; and has not demonstrated any interest or ability to parent the child. While the father testified he had a seizure disorder that kept him from full-time employment, he acknowledged his job loss in 2013 was the result of his boss being "tired" of working around the father's child visitation (which is one day ...


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