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In re Guardianship of A.L.G.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

IN RE THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.L.G.B., Minor child.
v.
G-B and R.G-B., Appellees. R.G-B., Appellant,

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Henry County, Michael J. Schilling, Judge.

         A biological mother appeals the district court's denial of her motion to dismiss a previous order establishing a guardianship for the mother's child. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          Diana L. Miller and Sarah S. James of Whitfield & Eddy, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Patrick C. Brau of Brau Law Office, Mt.Pleasant, for appellees.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.

         Raney, the biological mother of A.L.G.B., appeals from the district court's denial of her motion to dismiss the guardianship for A.L.G.B. As she did in her motion, Rainey maintains the district court could only exercise emergency temporary jurisdiction over child-custody proceedings involving A.L.G.B. at the time the initial temporary guardianship commenced; because the district court failed to enter the temporary order in accordance with the statute controlling temporary emergency jurisdiction, the court did not have jurisdiction to enter the final order. She asks us to find the guardianship is void.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         A.L.G.B. was born in Missouri in June 2014. Within a few days of A.L.B.G.'s birth, Raney brought her to Iowa, and she remained living in the state until September. Raney and A.L.B.G. then returned to Missouri, where they resided until mid-July 2015 when Raney asked the appellees to bring A.L.G.B. to Iowa to live with them while she sought treatment for her heroin addiction.

         Less than one month later, on August 5, the appellees filed a petition asking the court to appoint them the temporary guardians of A.L.G.B. In their petition, the appellees alleged, "The proposed ward is a resident of the State of Iowa." The petition did not include a jurisdictional affidavit, as required by Iowa Code section 598B.209 (2015), and it is now undisputed Iowa was not the "home state" of A.L.G.B., as statutorily defined. See Iowa Code § § 598B.204(1). On the same day, Raney filed a written consent to the guardianship, and the court appointed the appellees the temporary guardians of A.L.G.B., finding, "It is necessary to protect the health and safety of A.L.[G.]B. to appoint the Petitioners, proposed guardians, as temporary guardians, until such time as there is a hearing and judgment on the Petition for Appointment of Guardians (Involuntary)."

         On January 21, 2016, the appellees filed a motion asking the court to "set a hearing on the Petition for Appointment of Guardians (Involuntary)." The court set a hearing on "said Petition" for February 29. Raney again filed written consent, stating she "confirm[ed] that it is in the best interests of A.L.G.[B.] that the Court grant the guardianship of A.L.G.[B.] and appoint" the appellees the guardians.

         At the February 29 hearing, Raney testified about the possible natural father of A.L.G.B. Due to the new information, following the hearing, the court filed a written order requiring that the named man be served. The court did not otherwise rule on the petition to appoint guardians.

         On April 7, the court filed a written ruling. In it, the court noted the biological father had been served and indicated he had no objection to the proposed guardianship. The court also noted Raney's consent to the guardianship. The court found it was "necessary to appoint guardians for the protection of the health and safety of A.L.G.B." and then appointed the appellees as guardians.

         Raney filed a motion to dismiss the guardianship for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on August 26. In the petition, Raney maintained that Iowa was not the "home state" of A.L.G.B. at the time the appellees were appointed temporary guardians, so the court could not have had subject matter jurisdiction. See Iowa Code ยง 598.102(7) ("'Home state' means the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding."). Additionally, she claimed that the court did not have temporary emergency jurisdiction either because the court failed to make any of the necessary or factual legal findings to assert that jurisdiction. Alternatively, she maintained that even if the court had properly exercised temporary emergency jurisdiction ...


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