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In re A.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 7, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.S., Minor Child, H.B. and L.B., Guardians, Petitioners-Appellees, B.S., Mother, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Keokuk County, Crystal S. Cronk, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights under Iowa Code chapter 600A (2017).

          Melissa A. Norman of Lamping, Schlegel & Salazar, L.L.P., Washington, for appellant.

          Dustin D. Hite of Heslinga, Dixon & Hite, Oskaloosa, for appellees.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights under Iowa Code chapter 600A (2017). She argues there is insufficient evidence to show she abandoned the child, she failed to provide support for the child, and termination is in the child's best interest. She also argues the juvenile court violated her right to due process by denying her a continuance of the termination hearing.

         The child was ten years old when she came to live with a maternal aunt and uncle, who were later appointed the child's legal guardians. The mother, who has a history of substance abuse and criminal activity, had little contact with the child thereafter. After a year and a half, the aunt and uncle filed a petition under chapter 600A, seeking to terminate the mother's parental rights. The juvenile court entered an order terminating the mother's parental rights after a hearing. The mother appeals.

         We review termination proceedings under chapter 600A de novo. See In re R.K.B., 572 N.W.2d 600, 601 (Iowa 1998). We give weight to the juvenile court's fact findings, especially those regarding witness credibility, though we are not bound by them. See id. As in all termination proceedings, our primary concern is the child's best interest. See Iowa Code § 600A.1; R.K.B., 572 N.W.2d at 601.

         The juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 600A.8(3)(b). Under section 600A.8(3)(b), a parent is deemed to have abandoned a child six months of age or older 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 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.
(3) Openly living with the child for a period of six months within the one-year period immediately preceding the termination of parental rights hearing and during that period openly holding himself ...

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