IN THE INTEREST OF A.B. and A.B., Minor Children, A.B., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Appanoose County, William
Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.
mother of two children appeals a permanency review order
placing legal custody of the children with their father.
A. George of Griffing & George Law Firm, PLC,
Centerville, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
De Vries of De Vries Law Office, PLC, Centerville, attorney
and guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.
mother of two children born in 2004 and 2007 appeals a
permanency review order placing legal custody of the children
with their father.
Background Facts and Proceedings
department of human services first encountered the family in
2015, when the mother tested positive for methamphetamine.
The department referred the mother to a provider of community
2017, the mother sought and obtained a domestic abuse
protective order against the father. The order, entered after
a hearing at which the father and his attorney appeared,
stated the father "committed a domestic abuse assault
against [the mother]." The district court granted the
mother exclusive possession of the family residence and
temporary custody of the children, subject to visitation with
after the domestic abuse protective order was filed, the
department intervened for the second time based on concerns
that the mother "had started using again," as well
as concerns that she assaulted the children's father in
the children's presence. The mother admitted to
methamphetamine use. She agreed to a safety plan under which
the children would stay with their adult sister.
State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance petition. The
parents stipulated to the adjudication of the children as in
need of assistance. The juvenile court "removed"
the children from their home and placed them in the
"legal custody . . . [of] their father." In a
subsequent dispositional order, the court again
"removed" the children from the mother's home
and reiterated that legal custody was placed with the father.
Following a review hearing, the court retained the earlier
disposition. The court also noted that the mother was
incarcerated "on charges of stalking and violating a
the father moved for concurrent jurisdiction to litigate
custody in the district court. The juvenile court denied the
motion after finding that the mother "seem[ed] to be
making some progress." In a later review order, the
court declined to address the father's renewed motion for
concurrent jurisdiction. The court also noted that "[a]
question arose regarding the appropriate permanency goal for
the children," given that the domestic abuse protective
order granted the mother "temporary legal custody of the
children." The court concluded, "We are not yet at
a permanency hearing." The court left legal custody of
the children with the father.
a permanency hearing, the court again noted that the district
court's protective order placed temporary custody of the
children with the mother. The court explained that the order
had expired and "[p]rior to that order being entered the
children resided with the parents together in the same
home." The juvenile court elected to grant the
father's motion for concurrent jurisdiction to litigate
custody and visitation in the district court but barred the
district court from entering "temporary orders on
affidavits." Again, the court ordered legal custody of
the children to remain with the father. The court granted the
mother six additional months to work toward reunification.
juvenile court filed a permanency review order before the six
months expired. The court articulated the following framework
for reviewing permanency:
Iowa law requires the juvenile court to first consider
whether returning a child to the custody of a parent is
appropriate. If immediate return is not appropriate the
juvenile court is then to consider whether granting
additional time for a parent to work toward reunification is
appropriate. If those options are not available the court
must then consider whether it is in the best interests of ...