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In re T.M.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 21, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF T.M., J.B., and J.B., Minor Children, A.W., Intervenor, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Rose Anne Mefford, District Associate Judge.

A.W. appeals from the juvenile court's denial of her motion to intervene.

Mellissa A. Nine of Kaplan, Frese & Nine, L.L.P., Marshalltown, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bruce Kempkes, Assistant Attorney General, and Rebecca Petig, County Attorney, for appellee.

Michael W. Mahaffey of Mahaffey Law Office, Montezuma, for appellee M.G. Fred Stiefel of Stiefel Law Office, Victor, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

BOWER, J.

A.W. appeals the juvenile court's denial of her motion to intervene. She contends she was not afforded due process when the court denied the motion without a hearing. She also challenges the court's finding she lacks standing to intervene.

Because A.W.'s motion does not allege a sufficient interest to warrant intervention in the child-in-need-of-assistance proceedings, the juvenile court was within its discretion to deny the motion without a hearing. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

The children at issue came to the attention of the Department of Human Services (DHS) after their mother's death. Because no legal father could assume the role of parent, the children were adjudicated to be children in need of assistance (CINA) on February 28, 2013, and were placed in the custody of the DHS.

A.W., a family friend, filed motions to intervene on March 18, 2013. In the motions, she identified herself as "the mother's best friend and former caretaker" of the children. She stated the mother and children had "formerly lived with" her. A.W. further alleged she was "an interested party because, having been the mother's best friend, she is [] like a family member to the child[ren] and she is interested in placement."

A dispositional hearing was held on April 4, 2013. Because the motions to intervene were not set to be heard at the dispositional hearing, A.W. did not have notice of the hearing and did not attend. The court raised the motion to intervene at the hearing anyway, asking the State and the guardian ad litem their positions on the matter. Both the State and guardian ad litem opposed the motions, citing A.W.'s lack of standing.

The guardian ad litem then raised the issue of whether A.W. would "appreciate the opportunity to make her own argument at some point." The juvenile court noted that while the motion had not been set for a hearing, "[i]t's the court's position as well that there is no legal standing for this ...


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