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In re S.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF S.B., Minor Child, D.B., Grandmother/Legal Guardian, Petitioner-Appellee, B.S., Father, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Daniel L. Block, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A father appeals the juvenile court's decision terminating his parental rights in a private termination action.

          Michael J. Lanigan of Law Office of Michael Lanigan, Waterloo, for appellant father.

          D. Raymond Walton of Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman & Johnson, PC, Waterloo, for the appellee legal guardian.

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

          BOWER, Judge.

         A father appeals the juvenile court's decision terminating his parental rights in a private termination action brought by the child's legal guardian. There is sufficient evidence in the record to show the father abandoned the child and termination of the father's parental rights is in the child's best interests. We affirm the juvenile court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         B.S., father, and C.B., mother, are the parents of S.B., born in 2015. Both parents have a history of substance abuse. After the child was born, the parents lived with the child in the home of the maternal grandmother, D.B. After a period of time, the parents moved out, leaving the child in the care of D.B.[1] The parents saw the child periodically when D.B. brought the child to them for a visit. D.B. became the child's legal guardian on November 10, 2015.

         B.S. was involved in a high-speed chase with police officers on November 3, 2015. He was convicted of assault on an officer with a deadly weapon, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, and eluding, and he was sentenced to twenty years in prison. He has been incarcerated since April 16, 2016. B.S. stated he expected to be released on parole in December 2017.

         On February 24, 2017, D.B. filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of B.S. and C.B. under Iowa Code chapter 600A (2017). C.B. consented to the termination of her parental rights. At the termination hearing, held on May 25, 2017, B.S. testified the last time he saw the child was in February 2016. He stated he asked D.B. to bring the child to visit him in prison but his request was ignored. B.S. stated he bought diapers for the child "probably 10 times." He also stated he sent a card to the child at Christmas.

         The juvenile court terminated the father's parental rights on the ground of abandonment under section 600A.8(3). The court found B.S. had not provided financial assistance for the child and had only visited the child sporadically before he went to prison. The court found termination of the father's parental rights was in the child's best interests, noting the father's lengthy history of substance abuse and criminal conduct. The father now appeals.[2]

         II. Standard of Review

         Our review in private termination proceedings is de novo. In re G.A., 826 N.W.2d 125, 127 (Iowa Ct. App. 2012). We give deference to the factual findings of the juvenile court, especially those relating to the credibility of witnesses, but we are not bound by the court's findings. In re R.K.B.,572 N.W.2d 600, 601 (Iowa 1998). Our primary concern in ...


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