Child in Need of Assistance
Attorney in Iowa

A Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) case usually involves allegations of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and may sometimes lead to parental rights termination. Knowing that you are going to be involved with the Department of Human Services and/or Juvenile Court is scary.  Hiring an experienced Iowa juvenile law attorney is an important step you can take to protect your rights and your child.

At the Olberding Law Office, I've been offering comprehensive legal guidance and reliable representation in juvenile law matters, including CINA and delinquency cases for 35 years. I'm available to review the surrounding circumstances, conduct a thorough investigation, and have represented parents, children, or other concerned individuals. I will fight compassionately to protect my client, ensure that his or her voice is heard, and always act in my client's best interests.

My firm, Olberding Law Office, is proud to serve clients in Nevada, Iowa, and the surrounding communities of Story County, Boone County, Marshall County, Hamilton County, and Hardin County.

What is a Child in Need of Assistance?

A child is considered to be "in need of assistance" if there are reasons to believe that the minor child is experiencing abuse, neglect, abandonment, developmental disability, or mental disorder, and the parents, custodian, or guardian are unable or unwilling to provide adequate care for the child. For Iowa courts to consider a child as one that is in need of assistance, the state and the Department of Human Services (DHS) must establish the following elements:

  • The child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned, or
  • The child has a developmental disability or mental disorder, and
  • The child's parents, guardian, or custodian are unable or unwilling to provide adequate care and attention to the needs of the child.

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What is the Process?

In Iowa, Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) proceedings involve the following stages:

Removal

If the state or local Department of Human Services proves that the child is in potential physical danger, a judge may order the removal of the child from the current home environment. The removal order may be issued with or without a hearing. Should a child be removed without a hearing, a formal hearing must be scheduled within ten days after the removal.  If a child is removed, the state will file a petition alleging the child is a child in need of assistance.

Even if the judge refuses to remove the child or removal is not sought, the state can still file a CINA petition.

Adjudication

Adjudication is the second stage of CINA proceedings. During the adjudication hearing, the judge will review the facts of the CINA case and determine whether:

  • The allegations in the CINA petition are true. 
  • The child is, in fact, a child in need of assistance within the jurisdictions of the law.

The child's parent(s), guardian, or custodian will be allowed to present their case. The juvenile court will review evidence, hear testimony, and make a decision. The case will proceed to the disposition phase if the court finds the child(ren) to be in need of assistance.

Disposition Hearing

The disposition hearing is typically used to determine what is done to and for the child and what is required and expected from the parents. Depending on the court's conclusion, possible outcomes include:

  • Returning the child to the parent under certain conditions
  • Placing the child in foster care
  • Awarding custody and guardianship to another parent, relative, family member, or another person capable of providing adequate care for the child.

Review Hearings

Furthermore, a review hearing will be held by an Iowa court at least every six months to review the progress of the parents, the child's condition, and the child's placement if he or she was removed from the parents.

Parental Rights Termination

The aim of the juvenile court is family reunification. However, if reuniting the child and parents is not an ideal option, a juvenile judge may enter a decree to terminate parental rights. Once the parental rights have been terminated, the child will be eligible for adoption in Iowa.

What are Bridge Orders and How Do They Work?

A bridge order is a transition order that allows the transfer of jurisdiction related to CINA cases. The Iowa juvenile court would hold a hearing and determine child custody, physical care, and visitation order.

Pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.103A, the juvenile court may close a CINA case by transferring jurisdiction of the child's custody, physical care, and visitation to the district court through a bridge order if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The child must be adjudicated as a child in need of assistance.
  • The child's paternity has been legally established.
  • The child is safely placed by the juvenile court with a parent.
  • No current district court order exists for custody in place.
  • The juvenile court has determined that the CINA case can be closed safely after the district court has entered an order for custody, physical care, and visitation.
  • A parent in the case qualified for court-appointed counsel in the CINA case.

Work With a Knowledgeable CINA Attorney

CINA cases are emotionally and mentally stressful for both parents and children. Having an experienced attorney represent you and help you through the court process can make the process easier, smoother, and maybe even faster. With 35 years of experience in Juvenile Court, I have represented parents, children, and other concerned individuals. Please contact Olberding Law to see if I can help you.

Child in Need of Assistance Attorney Serving Nevada, Iowa

Any case that involves children is emotionally and mentally stressful for both parents and children. Having an experienced attorney represent you and help you through the court process can make the process easier, smoother, and maybe even faster. With 35 years of experience in Juvenile Court, I have represented parents, children, and other concerned individuals. My firm proudly serves clients in Story County, Boone County, Marshall County, Hamilton County, and Hardin County, Iowa — so call or reach out today to learn how I can help with your case.