IN THE INTEREST OF J.W., Minor Child, J.W., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E.
Seymour, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the removal of his daughter in a child in need
of assistance dispositional order. AFFIRMED.
L. Mason of JL Mason Law, PLLC, Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Michael J. Bandstra of Bandstra Law Office, Des Moines,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
an adjudication and dispositional hearing, the father of J.W.
appeals. He did not challenge the statutory findings below
nor does he challenge those findings on appeal. He only
asserts the district court could not "remove" the
child from him because he had no actual or legal custody of
the child. On our de novo review of this
child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) case, we affirm. See
In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d. 731, 733 (Iowa 2001).
born January 2008, was found to be a CINA based on the
mother's neglect of J.W. The mother and the father were
never married, and no formal custody order appears in our
record. In 2008, while J.W. was still an infant and in the
father's care, the father was arrested and convicted of
drug-related charges. He was incarcerated until May 2016, at
which time J.W. began spending time with her father weekly,
including overnight and weekend visits. In March 2018, after
the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved
with this family due to the mother's neglectful conduct,
the father was arrested and again incarcerated for a parole
violation. He remained incarcerated in federal prison in
Leavenworth, Kansas, at the time of the adjudicatory and
dispositional hearings. At the dispositional hearing, the
father agreed he was not in a position to assume custody of
J.W. The dispositional order placed J.W. in the temporary
custody of the mother (under DHS supervision) and ordered
J.W.'s removal from the father.
State asserts the father's challenge to whether J.W. was
removed from his custody is not ripe for review. See
State v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 616 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Iowa 2000)
(holding "[a] case is ripe for adjudication when it
presents an actual, present controversy, as opposed to one
that is merely hypothetical or speculative"). To the
district court, the father's counsel argued, "[T]he
only benefit the State receives from having a removal today
is that it starts the clock towards the ability to
terminate." We agree with the State the issue is not
ripe for review. At the dispositional hearing, the father
acknowledged he could not take custody of J.W. due to his
incarceration. In his petition on appeal, the father also
acknowledges "[c]ustody has never been with" him
and "[t]here is no custody or visitation order for
J.W." Whether and when J.W. was removed does not impact
the CINA adjudication or disposition; it only impacts
potential future proceedings- such as a termination of
parental rights proceeding-when a specific amount of time
must be shown to have passed since a child was removed from
either parent's custody. Compare Iowa Code
§ 232.116(1)(e), (f), & (h) (requiring certain time
frames before termination of parental rights), with
Iowa Code § 232.2(6) (referencing certain acts to have
occurred). Should the father's parental rights ever be in
jeopardy of termination, he may raise his claims as to
removal at that time.
therefore affirm the adjudicatory and dispositional order of
the district court without further opinion. Iowa Ct. R.
McDonald, J., concurs; Vaitheswaran, ...