What is the Process?
In Iowa, Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) proceedings involve the following stages:
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 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.
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.
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.