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In re G.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF G.M., Minor Child,
v.
D.V., Father, Respondent-Appellant, S.S., Mother, Petitioner-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Charles D. Fagan, District Associate Judge.

         The father appeals from the termination of his parental rights pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 600A (2017). AFFIRMED.

          Sara E. Benson of Benson Law, PC, Council Bluffs, for appellant father. Leslie A. Christensen, Omaha, Nebraska, for appellee mother.

          Maura C. Goaley, Council Bluffs, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         The father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, G.M. The father maintains there is not clear and convincing evidence he abandoned his child within the meaning of Iowa Code section 600A.8(3)(b) (2017) and termination is not in the child's best interests.

         We review private termination proceedings 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 related to witness credibility. Id. As always, our primary concern in a termination proceeding is the best interests of the child at issue. Iowa Code § 600A.1.

         The court may terminate the non-petitioning parent's parental rights if it finds clear and convincing evidence the parent has abandoned the child, within the meaning of section 600A.8(3). Section 600A.8(3)(b) provides, in pertinent part:

If the child is six months of age or older when the termination hearing is held, a parent is deemed to have abandoned the child 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.[1]

         The petitioning parent bears the burden to establish the grounds for termination. See In re R.K.B., 572 N.W.2d 600, 601-02 (Iowa 1998).

         The father maintains he did not abandon G.M. The father had never provided any financial support for the child and had yet to meet five-year-old G.M. at the time of the termination hearing; the father does not dispute the lack of support, but as to contact with the ...


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