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Madison Clark

Parents are not always able to take care of their children. These situations may have arisen as a result of death, injury, or some other circumstance. In such cases, another individual, usually a family member or acquaintance, may petition the court for legal authority to care for the child and make day-to-day decisions on the child's behalf. “Guardian” is the title given to this person.  

The Iowa Probate Act has governed minor guardianship proceedings for several years. A recent minor guardianship legislation took effect on January 1, 2020. The “Iowa Minor Guardianship Proceedings Act” is the name of the current statute. This new law places further restrictions on people who choose to be guardians of minors and strengthens rights for biological parents, prospective guardians, and children.  

Minor guardianship proceedings must first be heard in juvenile court rather than probate court, which is one of the most significant changes. The legislation also requires major improvements to the registration, trial, and administrative procedures for guardianships.  

The following are some of the most critical aspects of the current legislation to be aware of:  

Changes to Iowa Background Checks for Guardianship

All potential guardians will be subjected to a background check, which will include a criminal background check, a child abuse registry check, a dependent adult abuse registry check, and a sex offender registry check. The background check will be paid for by the individual who files the petition for guardianship. The court can, however, waive the fees if there is good reason. When determining if anyone is a suitable parent, this judge will take the findings of the background check into account. 

Guardianship Obligations Changes in Iowa

If a biological parent agrees to the guardianship, in addition to signing a consent form, the parent and the guardian must request an agreement outlining the guardian's obligations as well as the parent's or parents' responsibilities. The guardianship arrangement must also specify how long the parent and guardian expect the guardianship to continue. 

Parental Counsel Laws in Iowa  

If a parent does not consent to the guardianship, asks the court for an attorney, and cannot afford one, the court will appoint one for them. 

Child Representation in Iowa Guardianship Court

The court can appoint an attorney to represent the child. If the child is too young to express their desires, the attorney will speak for them. In such cases, the attorney will fight for the best interests of the child.

Court-Appointed Counseling in Iowa Guardianship Court

The court can also appoint a court visitor for the child. The court visitor and the child's attorney cannot be the same person. The court visitor will meet with the child to discuss the guardianship process and find out what the child desires. The parents and the proposed guardian will also speak with the court visitor. The court visitor can pay a visit to the child's home and review medical, educational, and social service records, as well as meet with the child's teachers, doctor, and other service providers. The court visitor will provide a written opinion to the judge about the guardianship. 

Visitation Rights in Iowa Guardianship Cases

Before denying all visitation, correspondence, or interaction between the minor and the minor's parents, a guardian must obtain court approval. Without court permission, a guardian may impose fair limits on the time, location, and manner of visitation between the child and the parent. 

Care Plans for Iowa Guardians  

Within 60 days of being appointed guardian, a guardian must file an initial care plan. The initial care plan would need to provide details on the child's health, schooling, sports, and a payment plan for the minor's expenses, among other items. This initial care plan necessitates more knowledge and detail than the existing initial studies. 

Who is Responsible Iowa Guardianship Court Expenses  

The birth parents may be responsible for some of the costs associated with the guardianship proceeding in some situations.  

If the parent agreed to the guardianship at the outset, the court will terminate it if the parent no longer agrees, unless terminating the guardianship will be detrimental to the child and the child's interest in maintaining the guardianship outweighs the parent's interest in terminating the guardianship.  

The new legislation requires the parent to show that the guardianship should be terminated if the parent did not consent to the original guardianship. If the parent does so, the guardian must show that the guardianship should not be terminated by clear and convincing evidence.

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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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