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In re Z.F.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 21, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF Z.F., Minor Child, M.S., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Kevin A. Parker, District Associate Judge.

M.S. appeals the district court dispositional order placing his child, Z.F., in the custody of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) for continued placement in family foster care.

Jared Harmon of Carr & Wright Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bruce Kempkes, Assistant Attorney General, John Criswell, County Attorney, and Tracie Sehnert, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Gina Verdoorn of Taylor Law Offices, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

BOWER, J.

M.S. appeals the district court dispositional order placing his child, Z.F., in the custody of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) for continued placement in family foster care. M.S. argues the child should have been placed with the child's paternal grandparents. We find it is in Z.F.'s best interest to be placed with the paternal grandparents. Accordingly, we reverse the district court and remand for entry of an order placing the child with the paternal grandparents.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Z.F., the child in interest, was born in July 2012 and has a half sibling, M.F., who is approximately one year older. Following allegations of drug use and domestic abuse in the home, the children were removed from the care of their mother, C.K., on September 10, 2012. Both children were initially placed with the sister of an alleged biological father; however paternity tests later showed he was not Z.F.'s father. The children were then placed in family foster care, which continues. It was later determined Z.F. is the child of M.S. who was incarcerated at the time paternity was established.

C.K.'s parental rights were terminated on May 6, 2013. Having learned of the paternity of Z.F., DHS began contacting all of M.S.'s biological relatives including the paternal grandfather, R.W. Upon learning of Z.F., R.W. and his wife immediately expressed an interest in placement and started having lengthy unsupervised visits with Z.F. which have gone well. DHS conducted a background investigation and determined R.W.'s home was suitable for placement.

DHS filed a motion to modify placement asking that Z.F. be moved to R.W.'s home. Z.F.'s guardian ad litem resisted the motion. During the hearing the DHS caseworker testified in support of the modification. The guardian ad litem argued the bond between the half siblings warranted denial of the modification.[1]

The district court denied the modification ...


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