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In re M.K.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 21, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF M.K., Minor Child, J.D., Mother, Petitioner-Appellee, T.K., Father, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child.

          Susan R. Stockdale, Windsor Heights, for appellant.

          Elizabeth A. Kellner-Nelson of Kellner-Nelson Law Firm, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A father of an eight-year-old child appeals an order granting the mother's petition to terminate his parental rights. He contends the record lacks clear and convincing evidence to support the grounds for termination cited by the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The father and mother are the unmarried parents of a child, born in 2009. Following the child's birth, the district court established the father's paternity and prescribed an "almost 50/50" joint physical care schedule under which the mother cared for the child from Sunday through Thursday and the father took over from Thursday through Saturday. The court also ordered the father to pay child support.

         The mother moved from Lee County to Polk County in late 2012. In light of the move, the care schedule was changed to afford the mother primary physical care of the child, and the father visitation on the third weekend of every month and for half the summer. The father's child support obligation was increased.

         The father exercised visitation for more than three and a half years. In the fall of 2016, his in-person contacts with the child became sporadic. The September and October visits were cut short due to arguments between the father and paternal grandmother of the child. The father missed his November visit, and he only spent two hours with his son in December.

         The following month, the mother petitioned to terminate the father's parental rights. Following an evidentiary hearing eight months later, the district court granted the petition pursuant to two statutory grounds: Iowa Code sections 600A.8(3)(b) (2017) (abandonment) and 600A.8(4) (failure to pay child support). The father appealed.

         II. Abandonment - ...


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