IN THE INTEREST OF A.C.W., Minor Child, M.W., Petitioner-Appellee, M.T., Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, DeDra L.
biological father appeals the juvenile court decision
terminating his parental rights in a private termination
G. Martin of Joseph G. Martin, PC, Cedar Falls, for
A. Reindl of Reindl Law Firm, PLC, Mason City, for appellee.
A. Milder of Mark Milder Law Firm, Waverly, guardian ad litem
for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.
biological father, Melvin, appeals the juvenile court order
extinguishing his parental relationship with five-year-old
A.C.W. in this private termination action. Melvin disputes
the court's finding he abandoned his son by failing to
maintain contact or pay support. Melvin also argues
termination was not in A.C.W.'s best interests. After
reviewing the record anew, we reach the same conclusions as
the juvenile court. The facts support a finding of
abandonment. Melvin only met A.C.W. once and provided no
support beyond a single Christmas present. We also find
ending Melvin's rights advances the child's welfare.
For these reasons, we affirm the termination order.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
narrative begins in 2011 when Melvin had an intimate
relationship with Alecia. At the same time, Alecia had an
intimate relationship with Monte. So when Alecia learned she
was pregnant, she was unsure which man was the father. In May
2011, Alecia informed Melvin of her liaison with Monte. In
response, Melvin moved to Texas. After moving away, Melvin
had minimal contact with and provided no financial support
for A.C.W., despite knowing he might be the father.
continued her relationship with Monte and told him she
believed he was the father. When A.C.W. was born in February
2012, Monte signed a voluntary recognition of parentage and
his name appeared as the father on the birth certificate. But
Alecia also notified Melvin when A.C.W. was born. Melvin
asserts Alecia told him a DNA test confirmed Monte was the
child's father. Alecia denies making that statement.
Melvin took no action to verify paternity.
married Monte in March 2012, shortly after A.C.W.'s
birth. One year later, they had a child a child in common,
B.W. Alecia described the boys as "pretty tight,"
noting their proximity in age.
2016, Alecia and Monte's relationship unraveled. In April
that year, Alecia contacted Melvin to tell him she believed
he was A.C.W.'s biological father. Melvin alleges he
delayed attempts to establish a relationship with A.C.W. or
to extend financial support because Alecia told him to wait
while she worked to improve her marriage to Monte. But the
marriage was unsalvageable. In September, Monte petitioned to
dissolve his marriage to Alecia. In her answer, Alecia
admitted the parties had two minor children-A.C.W. and B.W.
In an order on temporary matters, the district court placed
the children in Monte's physical care.
testing completed in April 2017 revealed Melvin was
A.C.W.'s biological father. The next month, Melvin
petitioned to establish paternity, custody, and support of
the child. Two months later, Alecia petitioned to
disestablish Monte as the legal father of the child. In
response, Monte petitioned to terminate Melvin's parental