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In re A.V.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 11, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF A.V., Minor Child, T.H. and C.H., Intervenors-Appellants.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Carroll County, Adria Kester, District Associate Judge.

         The paternal grandparents of a child appeal the district court's decision denying termination of a guardianship and modification of placement. AFFIRMED.

          Penny B. Reimer of Cooper, Goedicke, Reimer, & Reese, P.C., West Des Moines, for grandparent-intervenors.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Christine L. Sand of Wild, Baxter & Sand, P.C., Guthrie Center, for minor child.

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

          BOWER, Judge.

         C.H. and T.H., A.V.'s paternal grandparents, (the Grandparents), appeal the district court's decision refusing to place A.V. in their care. We find the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) failed in their duty to notify the family of a child in need of assistance (CINA) proceeding involving A.V. but determine DHS should continue as the child's guardian as it is in A.V.'s best interests. We also find the district court did not err in refusing to modify A.V.'s placement with the maternal aunt.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         A.V. was born in 2014, and her biological parents' parental rights were terminated in April 2016. In re A.V., No. 16-0290, 2016 WL 1359140 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 6, 2016). The Grandparents cared for A.V.'s mother during her pregnancy and after the birth, and they were also caretakers for A.V. when the mother was unable to care for the child. The State began removal proceedings in April of 2015. A.V. was removed from the Grandparent's care and placed with A.V's maternal aunt, who resides with A.V.'s maternal grandparents.

         The Grandparents were not given formal notice of the CINA proceedings as required under Iowa Code section 232.84 (2016). Paternity was eventually established in October, and the Grandparents were allowed a short visit in November. Additional visitation was granted after a request was made in the CINA proceedings. Visitation became more frequent after this period but did not include overnight visits, and many requests for extra time were denied. The inflexibility of visitation has resulted from the growing tensions between the two families. During one longer period of visitation, the Grandparents felt they needed to take A.V. to the emergency room when they noticed pus draining from A.V.'s ear as a result of an ear infection. The Grandparents felt the infection had not been properly treated, although A.V.'s maternal family stated they had begun treatment and were following medical advice, which further strained the relationship with the A.V.'s maternal family.

         The district court retained DHS as A.V.'s guardian and refused to modify A.V.'s placement with the maternal aunt. The Grandparents now appeal.

         II. Standard of Review

         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 ...


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