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In re L.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 5, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF L.H., Minor child, S.M., Mother, Petitioner-Appellee, J.H., Father, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert J. Blink, Judge.

         Father appeals from an order terminating his parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 600A (2015). AFFIRMED.

          Jacob Van Cleaf of Van Cleaf & McCormack Law Firm, LLP, Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Ryan A. Genest of Culp, Doran & Genest, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellee mother.

          Jesse A. Macro Jr. of Macro & Kozlowski, L.L.P., West Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         This appeal arises out of a private action to terminate parental rights filed pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 600A (2015). Sarah, the biological mother of L.H., filed the action to terminate the parental rights of Johnathon, the biological father of L.H. The district court granted the petition, finding and concluding the father had abandoned the child within the meaning of Iowa Code section 600A.8(3). The father timely filed this appeal.

         This court reviews de novo termination-of-parental-rights proceedings. See In re C.A.V., 787 N.W.2d 96, 99 (Iowa Ct. App. 2010). "Although our review is de novo, we do afford the decision of the district court deference for policy reasons." State v. Snow, No. 15-0929, 2016 WL 4801353, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 14, 2016).

         The petitioner must prove each element of her case by clear and convincing evidence. See Iowa Code § 600A.8. The code provides a minor child is abandoned when:

[A] parent, punitive father, custodian, or guardian rejects the duties imposed by the parent-child relationship, guardianship, or custodianship, which may be evinced by the person, while being able to do so, making no provision or making only a marginal effort to provide for the support of the child or to communicate with the child.

Iowa Code § 600A.2(19). More specifically, because L.H. was older than six months at the time of the termination hearing, section 600A.3(8)(b) provides:

If the child is six months of age or older when the termination hearing is held, a parent is deemed to have abandoned the 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 any 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 ...

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