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Kevin O'Flaherty

When Can a Child Be Removed from Their Parent’s Home Without a Court Order in Iowa?  

This article will discuss when the court can remove a child from their home without a court order. The safety of children is the main concern of Iowa juvenile courts. The court may determine for the best interest of the child that they be removed from their parent’s home. Sometimes this may happen without an order from the court.    

Can a Child Be Removed from Their Home Without a Court Order?  

A police officer or juvenile court officer can take a child into custody if the child is in a situation that presents an imminent (about to happen) danger to their life or health. There is not enough time to apply for a court order. Likewise, a physician treating a child may keep the child in their custody and control without a court order under the same circumstances. A person taking the child into custody must immediately bring them to a place designated by the court to do so. If the child requires medical care, they may also be admitted to a hospital).    

The person bringing the child into custody must immediately inform the court of the removal and the reasons. When the court is informed of the removal, it will direct the department of human services (DHS) to try to contact the child’s parents or legal guardians. DHS will notify the court when the contract has been made.  


The court will then decide whether to continue the removal. If the court concludes there is not an imminent risk to the child’s life and health, it will order the child’s return. DHS or a juvenile court officer must tell the court of any new information which may affect the court’s determination. If the child is not returned, DHS or the juvenile probation department will file a petition for the child in need of assistance (CINA) within three days of the removal.    

Within 24 hours of the removal, unless the child is returned to the child’s home, the child will also have a physical examination by a licensed medical practitioner.    

Will A Child Be Taken into Custody if They Don’t Have Adult Supervision?  

If a police officer determines a child does not have adult supervision, the police officer working may take the child into custody. Situations where this may happen include if the parent or parents have been arrested or are otherwise unexpectedly incapacitated (for instance, due to a medical emergency). Suppose the officer cannot find a person with legal rights to care for the child. In that case, the officer will try and place the child with an adult relative or another adult who cares for the child. DHS may assist the officer in helping find placement for the child.  

This temporary placement will not exceed 24 hours. After 24 hours, if the person who is legally responsible for the child’s care cannot be located, the court may issue an order on its own to give temporary child custody.    

O’Flaherty law recognizes the intimidating process of determining child custody. Having proper legal counsel and legal advice can make all the difference. Call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Iowa family law attorneys today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form, and a member of our team will be in touch with you.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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