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In re S.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 7, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF S.A., Minor Child, S.F., Mother, Petitioner-Appellant, W.A., Father, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K. Vaudt, Judge.

         A mother appeals the district court's denial of her petition to terminate the parental rights of the father.

          Andrea M. Flanagan of Flanagan Law Group, PLLC, Des Moines, for appellant mother.

          W.A., Grimes, pro se appellee father. Jessica A. Millage of Millage Law Firm. P.C., Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         The mother appeals the denial of her petition to terminate the father's parental rights as to their daughter, S.A. The mother sought termination of parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code section 600A.8(3)(b)(1) and (2) and section 600A.8(4) (2016).

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The parties met in 2005 and began a romantic relationship; they have never married. S.A. was born in 2011 and is the only child from the relationship. The parties moved to Iowa with their daughter in 2014 and have remained here since.

         In August 2014, the father was arrested for domestic violence against the mother. He was charged with first-offense domestic abuse assault, pled guilty, and was convicted. The court entered a no-contact order between the parents, set to expire January 2016.

         In October 2014, the mother petitioned to establish custody, visitation, and support for S.A. In November, the father was charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI). He pled guilty, and the court sentenced him to serve the minimum jail term, suspending the balance, and requiring probation.

         The mother and father entered a stipulation and agreement on temporary matters, providing for the father to visit the child in gradually lengthening periods of time. In March 2015, the mother filed an application to modify the no-contact order and the court granted permission for the mother and father to communicate electronically regarding S.A. and to exchange S.A. for visitation in a public place. From March 2015 to September 2015, the father participated in graduated visitation, progressing to overnight visits with S.A.

         The father was arrested in September 2015 and charged with domestic abuse assault, second offense.[1] The father's probation was revoked in September 2015, when he pled guilty to domestic abuse assault, second offense. For both the OWI and domestic abuse assault, the court sentenced the father to two years of incarceration. The father was incarcerated and then transferred to a residential correctional facility, where he was granted work release.

         The mother dismissed without prejudice her application for custody, visitation, and support in September 2015. September 2015 was the last visitation between the father and S.A. The mother has become ...


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