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In re D.L.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 20, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF D.L., E.L, and J.L., Minor Children, C.G., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Rose Anne Mefford, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the juvenile court's removal of her children and their adjudication as children in need of assistance. AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

          Peter W. Stiefel, Victor, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Patrick J. Mahaffey of Mahaffey Law Office, Montezuma, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          BOWER, Judge;

         A mother appeals the juvenile court's removal of her children and their adjudication as children in need of assistance (CINA). We find the juvenile court had subject matter jurisdiction to remove the children, who were originally from Texas, under the temporary emergency jurisdiction provision of the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), Iowa Code section 598B.204 (2018), and affirm the removal of the children. On the issue of the CINA adjudication and dispositional orders, we reverse the juvenile court and remand for a determination of whether Texas has declined jurisdiction and whether Iowa has become the children's home state.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         J.L., father, and C.G., mother, are the parents of E.L., born in 2014, J.L., born in 2016, and D.L., born in 2017. The family lived in Texas but came to Iowa in June 2018 for the father's employment. On August 1, 2018, a social worker from Texas contacted Iowa law enforcement and asked for a welfare check on the children.[1] The family was living in a hotel. The officers found the children alone in the care of their seven-year-old paternal half-brother and the room in disarray. The mother came while officers were present.

         The next day, a worker from the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) went to the hotel room accompanied by officers. They found the following conditions:

There were feces on the bathroom floor. The hotel room was covered with old food, clothing, and trash. A number of choking hazards were noted. There was medication and cleaning chemicals accessible to the children. There was old and rotted food noted on the counter surfaces in the hotel. There was a lit candle accessible to the children. [C.G.] had not been awake for the day. (This was at approximately 2:00 p.m.) The children reported they had nothing to eat or drink that day. The children were dirty and unclothed.

         The DHS worker took the children to the emergency room. J.L. had linear marks on her right thigh, and the other children stated the mother had struck her with a belt. All three children had head lice. Additionally, they were ill and required antibiotics.[2] The parents were charged with child endangerment.

         The children were removed from the parents' care on August 3. After a temporary removal hearing, the juvenile court found it had jurisdiction based on "the severe neglect of these children and the need for an emergen[cy] ...


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