Juvenile courts favor placing children with parents

Iowa law favors placing a child with his or her parent over all other placement options, even if it means separating siblings. In: IN THE INTEREST OF K.Y., S.H., and J.Y., Minor Children, A.M.Y., Mother, Appellant, filed August 19, 2009 the Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Juvenile Court to place a child with the non custodial father even though that meant separating the child from her siblings, taking her out of her aunt’s care and despite the fact the father has had limited contact with the child. The Court of Appeals ruled:

We agree with the juvenile court’s decision. The juvenile court must make the least restrictive disposition that is appropriate considering all the circumstances of the case. Placement with a noncustodial parent is less restrictive than with a relative or other suitable person.

It is true that courts prefer to keep siblings together unless there are good and compelling reasons to separate them. Yet here we believe this principle must yield to the legal preference in favor of the natural parent.

Our ultimate concern is with the best interests of the child. In determining K.Y.’s best interests, we must take into account the “strong societal interest in preserving the natural parent-child relationship.” We find maintaining the natural parent-child relationship justifies the dispositional order in this case.

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