IN THE INTEREST OF C.K., Minor Child, T.D., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, David C.
Larson, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the denial of his motion to modify a
dispositional order in child-in-need-of-assistance
J. Klinker of Smith, Grigg, Shea & Klinker, P.C.,
Primghar, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for State.
Shannon L. Sandy of Sandy Law Firm, PC, Spirit Lake, guardian
ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
about the safety of his now five-year-old son, C.K., Travis
moved to modify a dispositional order in the
child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) case. The juvenile court
had returned C.K. to the care of his mother, Candace. But
Travis feared Candace would expose C.K. to dangerous conduct
by Sam, the father of her other child. Travis sought care of
C.K. because of Candace's renewed relationship with Sam.
Travis also argued placement with him was in C.K.'s best
juvenile court found no "showing that circumstances have
so materially and substantially changed that a modification
of the current dispositional order is in the best interests
of [C.K.]." The court also decided "the purposes of
the current dispositional order, namely, to maintain [C.K.]
at home with his mother and sister, can reasonably be
accomplished with the services currently being
provided." See Iowa Code § 232.103(4)(b),
(c) (2018). In his petition on appeal, Travis challenges only
the court's finding of no material and substantial
change. He does not discuss the statutory grounds for
de novo review, we reach the same conclusion as the juvenile
court.Travis did not satisfy either the statutory
grounds for modification described in section 232.103(4) or
the material-and-substantial-change test lingering in our
case law. Furthermore, being in his mother's care is in
C.K.'s best interests.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services (DHS) in late 2016. He was living with his mother
Candace, his younger half-sister Z.S., and Z.S.'s father,
Sam. Authorities suspected Sam was using heroin and
methamphetamine in the home, as well as selling marijuana.
Sam also had a history of domestic violence against Candace,
including once threatening her with a gun. After removing
C.K. and Z.S. from the home, the DHS issued a founded
child-abuse assessment against Sam for denial of critical
care for C.K. The court adjudicated C.K. a CINA and
placed him with Travis's parents. Travis has never had custody
next few months, Candace struggled to maintain stability. She
moved often and had no job. She continued an on-again,
off-again relationship with Sam, over objections from the
DHS. Although ordered by the court to attend parent-child
interactive therapy (PCIT) with C.K., Candace failed to
participate. She also did not follow through with
court-ordered individual therapy.
March 2018, Candace showed improvement. She started to
cooperate with services. She also reported to DHS she had
ended her relationship with Sam, who was in and out of jail.
The DHS planned to return C.K. to Candace's care. Candace
found an apartment and a job. In July, following a successful
trial home visit, the court transferred custody of C.K. back
to Candace, who already had custody of Z.S. Candace worked to
maintain a stable home, job, and daycare for the two
children. The DHS reported both children were healthy, had
their basic needs met, and were bonded with Candace. Candace
showed appropriate and affectionate parenting without
complication arose in early 2018. Candace revealed to the DHS
she was pregnant following an encounter with Sam in October
2017 when they were still in a relationship.
Sam never progressed in Z.S.'s CINA case. He failed in
all juvenile court expectations, including visitation,
therapy, and substance-abuse testing and treatment. He
continued to engage in criminal activity, resulting in new
charges. The State petitioned to terminate his parental
rights to Z.S. and intended to file another petition to
terminate when the new baby was born.
April, Candace continued to cooperate with services,
according to the DHS reports. The social worker had no
concerns about her care for C.K., though Candace admitted
losing her full-time job and working only part-time. But the
worker did have suspicions Candace was seeing Sam again. The
worker cited text messages, a photograph from a ...