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In re W.C.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 24, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF W.C., Minor Child, J.B., Intervenor, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Allamakee County, Linnea M.N. Nicol, District Associate Judge.

         An applicant appeals the juvenile court's order denying his request to intervene in child in need of assistance proceedings. AFFIRMED.

          J.B., Luana, pro se appellant.

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

          Whitney L. Gessner of Gessner Law Office, Decorah, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Gamble, S.J. [*]

          GAMBLE, SENIOR JUDGE

         J.B. appeals the juvenile court's decision denying his request to intervene in child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings. J.B. did not preserve error on his claims regarding discovery or the recusal of the judge. We determine the juvenile court did not err in denying J.B.'s application to intervene. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On July 25, 2018, the State initiated CINA proceedings for W.C., born in 2015. The father was listed as J.R. and the mother as P.C. The child was removed from the mother's care and placed with the maternal grandparents. The mother was reportedly living with D.H., a convicted felon, at the time of the removal. The child was adjudicated to be in need of assistance.

         On October 4, J.B., who formerly lived with the mother and child, filed a pro se application to intervene in the CINA proceedings. J.B. is not the biological father of the child. J.B. stated the child saw him as a father figure and he believed it would be in the child's best interest for him to be involved in the child's life. The juvenile court entered an order on October 11, 2018, denying the application to intervene:

On October 4, 2018, [J.B.] filed a Petition to Intervene in the case of [W.C.]. [J.B.] appeared at the hearing scheduled for October 4, 2018. [J.B.] was given an opportunity to be heard on the content of his motion. All parties were given an opportunity to be heard. All the named parties resisted the intervention of [J.B.]. The court finds that [J.B.] does not fit into one of the categories of persons who are mandatory intervenors. The court does not find a connection between [J.B.] and the child that justifies intervention in this action.

         On November 20, J.B. filed a new application to intervene through counsel, stating he had resided with the child for a period of time and they had a close relationship. J.B. stated he wanted to be considered as a potential placement option for the child in the event the mother was not able to regain custody. In the order setting the application for hearing, the court requested legal authority for the intervention of a non-relative. The mother filed a resistance to the application to intervene, noting J.B. did not have a biological relationship with the child and had not been involved with the child for a substantial period of time.

         A hearing on the matter was held on January 31, 2019. J.B. testified he and the mother "were together for a couple months, living together," in late 2017 to early 2018. He stated even after the mother moved, he kept relations with the child "for some time after that." J.B. testified, "I feel I became like a father figure to him, and I see him as, you know, not my biological son, but as my son." He stated he wanted to resume regular visitation and potentially be considered as a placement option. J.B. submitted an affidavit from his aunt, stating J.B. had a close relationship with the child. J.B. also ...


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