Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) Appeals in Iowa

When the Iowa juvenile court takes action against a parent’s rights, that parent can appeal. Child in need of assistance (CINA) appeals in Iowa are governed by the Iowa Rules of Appellate Procedure and the Rules on Electronic Document Management System, which are the electronic filing of court documents. Because appeals are time sensitive and have specific requirements, it is highly advisable to contact an attorney immediately so that a deadline is not missed. Certain deadlines are firm, and extensions of time are not permissible.

After the juvenile court issues a ruling or order finding a child or children to be in need of assistance, the parent(s) have the right to appeal this ruling or order to the Iowa Supreme Court by filing a Notice of Appeal. Expedited deadlines apply to CINA appeals. The notice must be filed within fifteen (15) days of the court’s ruling in both the district court and the Supreme Court. The notice must state the order that is appealed, must be served on all parties, and must be signed by the parent/appellant and the trial attorney. Four (4) days after the notice is filed, the district court clerk must transmit a certified copy of the notice of appeal, docket, and calendar entries to the Supreme Court clerk and all parties. Seven (7) days after the notice is filed, the parent/appellant must either pay the filing fee ($150) or file a motion to waive the filing fee. In addition, seven (7) days after the notice is filed, the parent/appellant orders the transcript of the proceedings by filing a combined certificate in the district court and in the Supreme Court. The combined certificate is served on the court reporter(s) and all parties.

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The trial attorney in the CINA case must file a petition on appeal within fifteen (15) days after filing the notice of appeal. The time for filing the petition on appeal cannot be extended. If the petition is not timely filed, then the appeal shall be dismissed. A copy of the petition on appeal must be served on all parties, counsel, and the Attorney General’s office. The petition cannot exceed twenty (20) pages in length, must conform to Rule 6.1401’s Form 5, must be accompanied by a cover, and must include attachments (a copy of the order appealed from and any ruling on post-trial motions). Within fifteen (15) days after service of the petition on appeal, the appellee must file a response to the petition. The response is optional unless the appellee files a notice of cross-appeal. The response must comply with Rule 6.1401’s Form 6. A copy of the response must be served on all counsel, parties, and the Attorney General’s office. If a notice of cross-appeal is filed, the parent/appellant may file a reply to the cross-appeal within seven (7) days after service of the response. Within thirty (30) days of filing the notice of appeal, the parent/appellant requests that the district court clerk transmit the record to the Supreme Court clerk. The record on appeal in CINA cases includes the CINA court file, all exhibits, and the transcripts of any hearings of that have been appealed from.

Once the petition, response, and reply is filed and the record is submitted, the Supreme Court decides whether to retain the case or transfer it to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The vast majority of cases in Iowa are transferred to the Court of Appeals. After reviewing the petition, response, and reply and the record, the appellate court may affirm or reverse the juvenile court’s order, remand the case, or set the case for full briefing. Typically, in most CINA appeals, the appellate court does not order full briefing and decides the case on the petition, response, reply, and the record. Finally, after the appellate court issues its opinion, the appellate court will issue procedendo, which gives jurisdiction back to the juvenile court.

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