IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF I.P. and K.P.,
D.K., Respondent-Appellee. R.G., Petitioner-Appellant,
from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, James C.
grandmother appeals the dismissal of her petitions for
guardianship of her two grandchildren.
Melissa A. Nine of Nine Law Office, Marshalltown, for
D. Fisher, Waukee, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., Mullins, J., and Gamble, S.J.
GAMBLE, Senior Judge.
Gonzalez appeals the dismissal of her petitions for
guardianship of her two grandsons, I.P. and K.P. On appeal,
Gonzalez argues the district court erred in dismissing her
petitions because it did not consider the best interests of
the children at issue. Gonzalez also requests appellate
Facts and Prior Proceedings
is the maternal grandmother of I.P. and K.P., ages nine and
seven respectively at the time of trial. Because the
children's parents largely rejected their parental
duties, the children have lived with Gonzalez since birth,
along with their half-sister and cousin. The children's
mother, Brynn Price, has also lived with Gonzalez and the
children intermittently, though Gonzalez remained the
children's primary caregiver. David Kelly is the
children's father. He has had limited contact with the
children, though in recent years he made more of an effort to
visit with the children. Kelly cared for the children roughly
nine weekends over the course of their lives. There is no
decree establishing custody, care, and visitation of the
children between Price and Kelly.
I.P. and K.P. have behavioral challenges. These are amplified
when either parent comes in and out of the children's
lives. This is because whenever the boys' schedule and
routine are disrupted in some way, they react and "start
to have meltdowns." This results in them becoming
defiant and agitated, and they refuse to listen to
instruction or participate in group activity. Beyond these
general changes in behavior, both children's history
reveals specific examples of troubling behavior. For example,
I.P. has threatened Gonzalez with a knife, requiring Gonzalez
to secure all household knives with a lock and develop a
safety plan should I.P. act out in this manner again. He also
tried to set his daycare bathroom on fire when he was four.
K.P. once tried to jump out of Gonzalez's car.
children take various medications under the supervision of a
doctor to regulate their behavior. When the children take
their medication as prescribed, it helps them manage their
behavior but does not eliminate their problematic behavior.
They also visit with a therapist weekly and a behavioral
health intervention services (BHIS) provider weekly and have
done this for several years. Gonzalez arranged for the
children to receive this care.
August 2017, Kelly informed Gonzalez he was ready to care for
the children and would send for them shortly. As a result,
Gonzalez petitioned for an involuntary guardianship of both
children. Price did not object to the guardianship, but Kelly
objected. Gonzalez also sought and received an emergency
temporary guardianship and a temporary injunction to prevent
Kelly from removing the children from Gonzalez's home.
The court also appointed a guardian ad litem to represent the
children's best interest.
September, Gonzalez and Kelly reached an agreement permitting
Kelly to initiate graduated supervised visitation with the
children supervised by YSS. This allowed Kelly to meet with
the children for two to three hours at a time. Visitation
summary notes from the YSS supervisor indicate the children
were consistently happy to see Kelly during these visits and
that Kelly interacted appropriately with the children.
case came to trial on March 1, 2018. At trial, several
witnesses testified in support of establishing the
guardianships. These witnesses include: Gonzalez; Price;
Julie Vincent, a teacher at the children's school;
Melinda Beard, director of the children's afterschool
daycare; Sarah Story, the BHIS provider; and Kylie Price,
Gonzalez's daughter. Kelly; Rhonda Moore-Hunter,
Kelly's girlfriend; and Janey Taylor, Kelly's mother,
testified on behalf of Kelly. Price presented no evidence.
The guardian ad litem's report recommended the court
grant the petitions for guardianship. However, the court
found Kelly to be a ...