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In re S.O.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF S.O. AND L.O., Minor Children, E.W., Grandmother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.

A grandmother appeals the denial of her application to remove the Department of Human Services as guardian of two of her grandchildren.

Jamie A. Splinter of Splinter Law Office, Dubuque, for appellant grandmother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Charles K. Phillips, Assistant Attorney General, and Ralph Potter, County Attorney, for appellee State.

Kristy Hefel of the Dubuque Public Defender's Office, Dubuque, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, J.

A grandmother appeals the denial of her application to remove the Department of Human Services (DHS) as guardian of her grandchildren, L.O. and S.O.

I. The juvenile court terminated the parental rights of L.O. and S.O.'s mother and father pursuant to their consent. DHS was appointed their guardian and custodian.

Following termination of parental rights, the children's grandmother moved to intervene in the proceedings and applied to remove DHS as guardian and custodian of the children. The juvenile court granted her motion to intervene, but denied her motion to have DHS removed as guardian. The grandmother appeals, contending DHS acted unreasonably in not placing the children with her.

II. We review de novo actions seeking to remove DHS as guardian and challenging custody placement. In re E.G., 738 N.W.2d 653, 654 (Iowa Ct. App. 2007). We review the facts and law and adjudicate rights anew but give weight to the findings of fact of the juvenile court. Id. The court's core role in these proceedings is to ensure placement is in the best interests of the child. See Iowa Code § 232.1 (2013); E.G., 738 N.W.2d at 657.

III. If parental rights are terminated, the juvenile court must contemplate the placement for the child. In re T.R., 705 N.W.2d 6, 11 (Iowa 2005). Iowa Code section 232.117(3) lists the options for transfer of guardianship and custody of children.

If the court concludes that facts sufficient to sustain the petition have been established by clear and convincing evidence, the court may order parental rights terminated. If the court terminates the parental rights of the child's parents, the court shall transfer ...

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