R.B., In Interest of, No. 92-771

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSACKETT
Citation493 N.W.2d 897
PartiesIn the Interest of R.B., A Minor Child. J.L., Mother, Appellant, G.M., Father, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 92-771
Decision Date27 October 1992

Page 897

493 N.W.2d 897
In the Interest of R.B., A Minor Child.
J.L., Mother, Appellant,
G.M., Father, Appellant.
No. 92-771.
Court of Appeals of Iowa.
Oct. 27, 1992.

James T. Peters of Ristvedt & Peters, P.C., Independence, for appellant mother.

Timothy G. Goen of Jenk & Goen, Dyersville, for appellant father.

Bonnie J. Campbell, Atty. Gen., John M. Parmeter, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Judy Sheirbon, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Lou Walker, County Atty., for appellee State.

Mary Lou Tracey of Tracey & Tracey, guardian ad litem for child.

Heard by DONIELSON, P.J., and HAYDEN and SACKETT, JJ.

SACKETT, Judge.

A biological mother and a biological father appeal a trial court order terminating their parental rights to Redge Brown, 1 born September 9, 1986. We affirm.

Page 898

Redge's biological parents are divorced. When their marriage was dissolved, appellant mother received physical care. Both parents have remarried. In April 1990 Redge was removed from his mother's care and put in a foster care home because his stepfather abused him, and his mother, knowing of the abuse, had failed to protect him. Following a number of review hearings in December 1991, the State filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both biological parents. The hearing was set for April 6, 1992. A one-day hearing was held on April 6, and when it became evident the matter could not be concluded, the hearing was rescheduled for April 16, 1992. The mother was present on the first day of trial but not the second day of trial. The juvenile court terminated the parental rights of both the mother and the father under Iowa Code section 232.116, which provides:

Grounds for termination.

1. Except as provided in subsection 3, the court may order the termination of both the parental rights with respect to a child and the relationship between the parent and the child on any of the following grounds:

* * * * * *

(3) There is clear and convincing evidence that the parents have not maintained significant and meaningful contact with the child during the previous six consecutive months and have made no reasonable efforts to resume care of the child despite being given the opportunity to do so.

* * * * * *

e. The court finds that all of the following have occurred:

(1) The child is four years of age or older.

(2) The child has been adjudicated a child in need of assistance pursuant to section 232.96.

(3) The custody of the child has been transferred from the child's parents for placement pursuant to section 232.102 for at least twelve of the last eighteen months, or for the last twelve consecutive months and any trial period at home has been less than thirty days.

(4) There is clear and convincing evidence that at the present time the child cannot be returned to the custody of the child's parents as provided in section 232.102.

The mother first contends the juvenile court referee abused her discretion in refusing to continue the trial to allow the mother to testify, and that the mother's constitutional due process rights were violated when the juvenile court referee conducted a portion of the trial in the mother's absence.

A mother's or father's interest in maintaining the integrity of his or her family unit is protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States and the Iowa constitutions. Alsager v. District Court of Polk County, 406 F.Supp. 10, 22 (S.D.Iowa 1975). State intervention to terminate a parent-child relationship must be accomplished by meeting the requisites of the Due Process Clause. See Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 1394, 71 L.Ed.2d 599, 606 (1982). Due process requires fundamental fairness in a judicial proceeding. See Lassiter v. Department of Social Servs., 452 U.S. 18, 25, 101 S.Ct. 2153, 2158, 68 L.Ed.2d 640, 648 (1981). A parent's right to have custody of his or her child should be terminated only with the utilizations of the required constitutional safeguards. See Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399, 43 S.Ct. 625, 626, 67 L.Ed. 1042, 1045 (1923); In re T.R., 460 N.W.2d 873, 875 (Iowa App.1990).

We do not, however, consider the mother's constitutional challenges because the only ground urged for continuance was the mother's lack of transportation.

We, therefore, look to whether the juvenile court referee abused her discretion in not granting the continuance. We consider the following factors:

(1) whether the motion was filed by the movant immediately upon learning of the problem;

(2) whether the reason for the motion is the movant's fault or negligence; and

Page 899

(3) whether justice is more nearly obtained by granting the request.

A termination hearing involves the weighty issue of whether a court should sever biological ties. The issue of whether or not to legally sever the biological ties between parent and child is an issue of grave importance with serious repercussions to the child as well as the biological parents. The goal of a child in need of assistance proceeding is to improve parenting skills and maintain the parent-child relationship. When the State seeks termination, it is because the State has been unable to furnish the help necessary to allow the biological family to remain intact. The underlying issue in a termination action is whether the parent is beyond help. A termination hearing involves an extremely critical look at both the natural parents' parenting deficiencies and the services the State has provided the family. It is very difficult for a conscious decision maker to resolve these issues without the opportunity to hear the testimony of both parents where they both challenge the termination.

The mother was present for the first day of the hearing. Only the State's testimony was taken. The mother had been at all the other hearings. At the end of the first day, the State had not yet rested. The juvenile court referee entered an order continuing the hearing. The mother was aware of the date for the continued hearing.

When the mother's attorney presented the motion for continuance, it was urged on the ground the mother was not able to obtain transportation from Waterloo, where she lived, to Manchester, where the hearing was being held, a...

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19 practice notes
  • H.L.B.R., In Interest of, No. 96-2041
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • May 29, 1997
    ...480 (Iowa 1993). A parent has the right to due process and a fair trial when the State seeks to terminate parental rights. In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897 (Iowa App.1992); see also Alsager v. Iowa District Court of Polk County, 406 F.Supp. 10, 22 (S.D.Iowa 1975). A parent's right to have custody......
  • In the Interest of J.A.J.W., No. 4-146/04-0191 (Iowa App. 3/10/2004), No. 4-146/04-0191
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • March 10, 2004
    ...483 (Iowa 1993). A parent has the right to due process and a fair trial when the State seeks to terminate parental rights. In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897, 898 (Iowa Ct. App. 1992); see also Alsager v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 406 F. Supp. 10, 22 (S.D. Iowa 1975). A parent has the right to have custody o......
  • In re Morrow, No. 99-0846.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 7, 2000
    ...Morrow's Right to Due Process? "Due process requires fundamental fairness in a judicial proceeding." 616 N.W.2d 550 In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897, 898 (Iowa App.1992). Morrow claims that it was impossible for him to have a fair trial before a jury in view of the evidence that he had ......
  • In the Interest of D.H., No. 4-067/03-2029 (Iowa App. 2/11/2004), No. 4-067/03-2029
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • February 11, 2004
    ...Ct. App. 1997). A parent has the right to due process and a fair trial when the State seeks to terminate parental rights. In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897, 898 (Iowa Ct. App. 1992); see also Alsager v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 406 F. Supp. 10, 22 (S.D. Iowa 1975). A parent has the right to have custody of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • H.L.B.R., In Interest of, No. 96-2041
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • May 29, 1997
    ...480 (Iowa 1993). A parent has the right to due process and a fair trial when the State seeks to terminate parental rights. In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897 (Iowa App.1992); see also Alsager v. Iowa District Court of Polk County, 406 F.Supp. 10, 22 (S.D.Iowa 1975). A parent's right to have custody......
  • In the Interest of J.A.J.W., No. 4-146/04-0191 (Iowa App. 3/10/2004), No. 4-146/04-0191
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • March 10, 2004
    ...483 (Iowa 1993). A parent has the right to due process and a fair trial when the State seeks to terminate parental rights. In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897, 898 (Iowa Ct. App. 1992); see also Alsager v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 406 F. Supp. 10, 22 (S.D. Iowa 1975). A parent has the right to have custody o......
  • In re Morrow, No. 99-0846.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 7, 2000
    ...Morrow's Right to Due Process? "Due process requires fundamental fairness in a judicial proceeding." 616 N.W.2d 550 In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897, 898 (Iowa App.1992). Morrow claims that it was impossible for him to have a fair trial before a jury in view of the evidence that he had ......
  • In the Interest of D.H., No. 4-067/03-2029 (Iowa App. 2/11/2004), No. 4-067/03-2029
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • February 11, 2004
    ...Ct. App. 1997). A parent has the right to due process and a fair trial when the State seeks to terminate parental rights. In re R.B., 493 N.W.2d 897, 898 (Iowa Ct. App. 1992); see also Alsager v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 406 F. Supp. 10, 22 (S.D. Iowa 1975). A parent has the right to have custody of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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