When both parents are unable or unavailable to take care of their child, such responsibility may fall on a family member or friend. Through minor guardianship, Iowa courts give a family member or another capable person the legal authority and duty to care for a minor child to help make crucial daily decisions. If you have been appointed as a guardian of a minor and want to understand your responsibilities, speak with a knowledgeable Iowa family law attorney for proper guidance.

At Rieper Law P.C., I have devoted my career to providing experienced legal services and guiding clients in family law and guardianship-related matters. As your legal counsel, I can enlighten you about your responsibilities and limitations as a guardian of a minor child. Also, I have the proper legal counsel and support you need to execute your guardianship duties diligently and help you make intelligent decisions in the best interests of your ward.

My firm – Rieper Law P.C. – proudly serves clients across Des Moines, Iowa, and the surrounding areas of Jasper County, Warren County, Polk County, Madison County, Dallas County, and Story County.



Guardianship in Iowa

Guardianship is a fiduciary relationship and legal arrangement whereby the court gives another person the legal duty and authority to care for, take responsibility, and make vital decisions on behalf of a child or an incapacitated adult. The person appointed by the court is the guardian.

In Iowa, a court appoints a guardian to take care of and make crucial decisions for:

  • A minor child unable to take care of themselves or make vital decisions.

  • A mentally or physically incapacitated adult who is unable to care for themselves and make daily decisions.

The child or incapacitated adult whom the guardian oversees their non-financial affairs is considered a protected person.

Who Can Be a Guardian?

To be a guardian in Iowa, you must:

  • Be older than 18 years.

  • Be a legal resident of the United States.

  • Not have a criminal record.

  • Be of sound health and mind.

An experienced attorney can enlighten you about your duties and responsibilities when appointed as a guardian.

What Can A Guardian Do?

Below are some of the legal duties and responsibilities of a guardian in Iowa:

  • Make vital decisions concerning the care, comfort, and maintenance of the protected person.

  • Make informed decisions about the healthcare needs and general wellbeing of the protected person.

  • Plan for medical services needed by the protected person

  • Determine where the protected person will live.

  • Make sure the protected person receives adequate care and essential medical services.

  • Ensure that the services offered to the protected person meet their unique needs.

What Can't A Guardian Do?

However, minor guardianship in Iowa deals with non-financial decisions concerning the protected person. A court-appointed guardian does not have the legal authority to manage the protected person's assets, property, income, or other financial affairs.

In Iowa, only a conservator can make financial decisions for the protected person. In addition, the court may appoint the same person to serve as both the legal guardian and conservator. To do this, you may need to petition the conservatorship and guardianship cases into single court action.

Types of Guardianships

Additionally, two types of guardianships exist in Iowa —limited guardianship and full guardianship.

Limited Guardianship

In a limited guardianship, the guardian will only be assigned a particular set of duties. The protected person still possesses sufficient freedom to make decisions about their personal needs.

Full Guardianship

In full guardianship, the guardian has practically complete legal authority over the decision-making needs of the protected person. The court-appointed guardian will be responsible for making all decisions regarding the personal care and needs of the protected person.

Iowa Minor Guardianship Proceedings Act

The new Iowa Minor Guardianship Proceedings Act enforces more requirements on individuals becoming legal guardians of minor children. The law also provides further protections for potential guardians, biological parents, and children. Here are some important provisions of the act:

  • Biological parents who agree to guardianship must submit a formal agreement stating the duties and responsibilities of both the parents and the guardian.

  • The biological parents will cover any expenses involving the guardianship proceedings.

  • All potential guardians must submit a comprehensive background check, including their criminal history.

  • The court will appoint an attorney to represent parents who disapprove of guardianship.

  • The court may appoint an attorney and a court visitor to represent the child.

  • The court-appointed guardian must file an initial care plan within 60 days of their appointment.

  • A guardian will need court approval to deny all forms of interaction, visitation, or communication between the parents and their minor child.

  • Biological parents are eligible to file a petition to terminate the guardianship.

A knowledgeable Iowa guardianship attorney can enlighten you about your rights and limitations as a minor guardian and help you navigate crucial decisions at every step of the way.

Work With an Experienced Attorney

Guardianship plays a major role in the lives of minor children whose parents are unavailable or otherwise unable to act. However, before you become a guardian, it is essential to understand your duties, rights, responsibilities, and limitations. When you become a guardian, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is crucial for proper guidance and navigating key decisions.

At Rieper Law P.C., I have the knowledge, resources, and diligence to assist and guide clients through the process of establishing legal guardianship. As your legal counsel, I can enlighten you about the types of guardianships and explain what you can or cannot do.


If you have been appointed guardian of a minor and want to understand your roles and responsibilities, contact my firm – Rieper Law P.C. – today to schedule a simple consultation. I have the experienced legal counsel and strong advocacy you need to navigate key decisions. My firm proudly serves clients across Des Moines, Jasper County, Warren County, Polk County, Madison County, Dallas County, and Story County, Iowa.