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L.N.S. v. S.W.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2013

L.N.S., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
S.W.S., Defendant-Appellee

Released for Publication April 14, 2014.

Page 700

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Timothy J. Finn, Judge. A grandmother appeals the district court order denying her request to enforce a Georgia order granting her grandparent visitation.

L.N.S., Nashville, Georgia, appellant, Pro se.

S.W.S., Boone, appellee, Pro se.

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

OPINION

Page 701

VOGEL, P.J.

A grandmother appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of her grandchild's mother. The court determined that due to the termination of her son's parental rights the grandmother no longer had the right to enforce a grandparent visitation order she had obtained in Georgia and she no longer had standing to pursue her claims. We first determine the issues the grandmother raises on appeal do not address the basis for the court's decision--that is, because her son's parental rights had been terminated, the grandmother no longer had standing nor an enforceable right to visitation with the child. She has therefore waived these issues. We next find the Iowa district court had subject matter jurisdiction under Iowa Code chapter 598B (2009), the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), 28 U.S.C. § 1738A (2012). Affirmed.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

William and Sarah were married in Iowa in 2003, and a child, R.S., was born to them in Georgia in 2004. They lived in Georgia for a period of time, then separated. Sarah and R.S. moved to Iowa in January 2006. William went to Florida, where he killed his girlfriend and was convicted of first-degree murder. He is serving a life sentence in Florida. Linda, the mother of William, is a resident of Georgia. She obtained an order from a Georgia court on September 14, 2006, granting her grandparent visitation with R.S.[1]

For over three years, Sarah followed the Georgia visitation order but discontinued the visits in late 2009. On December 29, 2009, Linda registered the Georgia grandparent visitation order in the Iowa District Court for Story County. On April 19, 2010, Linda filed a petition in Story County seeking to enforce the order, stating Sarah was not permitting her to have visitation with the child. Prior to that, on October 27, 2009, and in Story County, Sarah had filed a petition for dissolution of marriage from William, referencing the 2006 Georgia order. She amended her petition on February 5, 2010, to detail the registration and case number of the Georgia order in Iowa. Also on February 5, 2010, she filed a petition to terminate William's parental rights. All three matters were consolidated in the district court.

Linda filed petitions to intervene in the dissolution and termination proceedings. On May 5, 2010, the district court denied Linda's petitions to intervene, and she did not appeal the denials. However, the court stayed her petition to enforce the grandparent visitation order until the termination action was resolved.

On October 8, 2010, the district court terminated William's parental rights to R.S. under Iowa Code section 600A.8. The court also granted the petition for dissolution of marriage, giving Sarah sole legal custody of the child. While acknowledging the Georgia order, the district court made no provision regarding visitation for Linda in the decree. William only appealed the termination of his parental rights, which this court affirmed on appeal. See In re Marriage of S.R.R.W.S., No. 10-1785, 2011 WL 2420811 (Iowa Ct. App. June 15, 2011).

On November 14, 2011, Linda again filed a motion seeking to enforce the Georgia grandparent visitation order, noting that the reason for the stay had been resolved with the termination order. Sarah responded by moving for ...


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