Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re D.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 2, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF D.S., Minor Child, D.S., Minor Child, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Jason A. Burns, District Associate Judge.

         A child, through his attorney, appeals the permanency order entered by the juvenile court placing him with his father.

          Natalie H. Cronk of Cronk & Waterman, P.L.C., Iowa City, for appellant minor child.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Amy L. Evenson of Larson & Evenson, Iowa City, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., Bower, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, Senior Judge.

         A child, through his attorney, appeals a permanency order entered by the juvenile court placing him with his father. Upon our review, we affirm the court's order.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         In January 2016, D.S. and his sibling were removed from their mother's care upon reports of abuse on the children; the mother was charged with child endangerment and violation of a no-contact order stemming from the incident. D.S. was placed in family foster care under the custody of the department of human services (DHS), where he has remained since removal.

         The father was first served notice of these proceedings on February 9, 2016. The father, who lives in Mississippi, was not listed on the child's birth certificate, but the parties did not dispute he was D.S.'s biological father. Although the father and mother ended their relationship before the child's birth in 2007, they had been in contact over the years and the father consistently paid child support for D.S.

         The child was adjudicated a child in need of assistance later that month; the father did not appear at the hearing. On March 3, 2016, the father filed a financial affidavit and request for counsel; the court entered an order appointing counsel that same day. Through his attorney, the father filed a motion for an interstate compact home study and a request for services, including initiation of contact with D.S. The father participated in the hearings that followed. He began visiting the child in the summer of 2016, and he had contact with the child through written correspondence and phone calls.

          The father continued to reside in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he was born and raised. The father has a large family support network in Tupelo. He lives with his sister and her children in a house owned by their mother. He has worked for the same employer since 2012. The father has six other children whom he pays child support for; the father has contact with all but one of those children, attends their sporting events, and participates "in their everyday lives" in Mississippi. The father volunteers for his church and coaches youth football. He is described as "soft spoken, " "selfless, " "patien[t], " "supportive, " and "hard work[ing]."

         In March 2017, the Mississippi home study resulted in a denial of placement. This conclusion was based in part on defects in the home study- including use of the wrong date of birth for the father (which resulted in reporting an incorrect criminal history) and the wrong date of birth for the child-as well as the father's failure to respond accurately to some questions on the study.[1] Service providers agreed "that it was a very poor home study" and another should be ordered, but there was no telling how long that would take. As of December 2017, another home study had yet to be completed.

         Meanwhile, the court extended the permanency goal of reunification for six additional months several times. The mother remained without stable housing or employment, but she engaged in semi-supervised visits with the child. During the course of this proceeding, the child understandably "change[d] his mind frequently" about where he wanted to live, including with his mother, with his half-sister and her father in Indiana, with his father, and with his foster family. D.S. has explained that he likes his father and his foster parents both "110%" and, although he felt comfortable in his school and current placement, he desired the court make the placement decision for him. After an extended visit to Mississippi in the summer of 2017, D.S. reported he had a "lot of fun" and he wanted to live with his father. At that point, the child's attorney and guardian ad litem requested her role be bifurcated and a new guardian ad litem be appointed to represent D.S. The court granted that request.

         The permanency hearing took place over two days in September and December 2017. The court granted the foster parents' motion to intervene. They expressed an interest in adopting D.S. if his parents' parental rights were terminated. The father requested the child be placed with him, and he indicated he was ready and able to care for the child in Mississippi. The State and the guardian ad litem recommended the court place the child with the father. DHS recommended termination of parental rights but acknowledged its recommendation was premised on the child's need for permanency and the fact that the Mississippi home study was still incomplete. The mother opined the child should be placed with the father if he could not be returned to her care. The child's attorney recommended termination of parental rights, or alternatively, a guardianship with the foster parents. The foster parents requested the court establish a guardianship.

         The juvenile court entered its permanency order on December 18, 2017. Having determined termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interests at this time and that "the mother is not a safe and stable placement for the child at this time, " the court proceeded to the question of whether placement with the father is a safe option that would serve the child's best interests. Ultimately, the court ordered custody of the child to be placed with the father and changed the permanency goal to "remain with father." The court ordered the effective date for the transfer of custody to take place between December 22, 2017 and January 12, 2018, in order "to allow the child to finish school and prepare for ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.