IN THE INTEREST OF M.J.W., Minor Child, C.W., Father, Appellant, B.G., Mother, Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Crystal
S. Cronk, District Associate Judge.
father appeals an order terminating his parental rights
pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 600A (2016). AFFIRMED.
Michael S. Fisher of Fisher Law Office, Oskaloosa, for
Katherine E.M. Lujan of Lloyd, McConnell, Davis & Lujan,
L.L.P., Washington, for appellee mother.
Kathryn J. Salazar of Lamping, Schlegel & Salazar,
L.L.P., Washington, guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.
an appeal in a private action to terminate parental rights
filed pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 600A (2016). The district
court terminated Christopher's parental rights in his
child M.J.W. pursuant to Iowa Code section 600A.8(3)(b)
(abandonment) and 600A.8(4) (failure to provide financial
support). Christopher timely filed this appeal.
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). It is
the petitioner's burden to prove each element of the case
by clear and convincing evidence. See Iowa Code
the mother and petitioner, and Christopher met and began a
romantic relationship in 2003. In 2004, Brandi gave birth to
their child M.J.W. Although Brandi was apprehensive of
marrying Christopher due to his past use of controlled
substances, they married in April 2005.
relationship quickly deteriorated. Brandi discovered
Christopher using methamphetamine in the marital home in the
immediate vicinity of M.J.W. Brandi took M.J.W. and moved out
of the marital home the following day. The parties divorced
in 2006. The parties were granted joint legal custody, Brandi
was awarded physical care, and Christopher was awarded
regular visitation to be supervised by his mother.
Christopher was ordered to pay $337.85 per month in child
2006 to 2008 Christopher maintained regular visitation with
M.J.W. In 2008, Brandi moved to Illinois with her new
paramour, Fred, to help care for Fred's ill father.
Christopher continued to exercise visitation with M.J.W.
every other weekend. In late 2008, Christopher left a
voicemail message threatening Brandi, Fred, and M.J.W. Brandi
obtained a protective order; however, the parties resumed
visitation in 2009. In 2011, Christopher's visitation
with M.J.W. became erratic. M.J.W. last saw Christopher in
January 2013. During the visit, M.J.W. called Brandi and
requested to come home because Christopher was not present
and when he was present he was ...