All About Temporary Guardianship

Fearing for your child’s safety is a highly stressful experience. It can also be a prolonged one during a divorce or separation. Even after a separation or divorce, you may fear your child is in danger while in the presence of their other parent.

Iowa law grants you some recourse in these circumstances. Specifically, you may petition the court for temporary guardianship of a minor.

How does temporary guardianship work? The specifics vary from case to case. Generally, though, the law grants a temporary guardian sufficient rights to protect a child in the case of an emergency. A temporary guardianship gives a parent time to address guardianship issues in greater detail through subsequent hearings without having to worry about their child’s safety in the interim.

How Does Temporary Guardianship Work in Iowa?

Per Iowa law, a guardian of a minor is someone who, through court appointment, has custody of a minor. Temporary guardianship involves a court deciding that an individual (typically one of a child’s parents) should have the rights of an emergency guardian for a period of time during an emergency situation.

The law doesn’t always grant an emergency temporary guardian all the powers of a long-term guardian. It states, “The powers of the temporary guardian set forth in the ex parte order shall be limited to those necessary to address the emergency situation requiring the appointment of a temporary guardian.” If the court grants a temporary guardianship, make sure you thoroughly understand the nature of your powers and rights.

How Long Does Temporary Guardianship Last in Iowa?

Under Iowa law, temporary guardianship only lasts 30 days. This time limit applies to temporary guardianships and conservatorships of both minors and adults. You may apply for a temporary guardianship or conservatorship of an adult in Iowa in unique circumstances when they can’t care for themselves.

Can You Give Temporary Guardianship to a Family Member?

Yes. Anyone with “an interest in the welfare of the minor” may petition a court for temporary guardianship. When submitting a petition, a petitioner doesn’t have to ask the court to appoint them as a minor’s temporary guardian. They can instead ask the court to grant temporary guardian rights to a family member.

Whether the court grants a petition will depend on various factors. If a child’s other parent doesn’t consent to making a family member a temporary guardian, the process may be more complex.

That said, an Iowa family court’s goal is always to make decisions that are in a child’s best interests. If you can demonstrate that a temporary guardianship is warranted, the court may grant your request.

How to Grant Temporary Guardianship

All About Temporary Guardianship

You must file a petition with the relevant court to request emergency temporary guardianship of a minor. The petition must include the following details:

  • The minor’s name, address, and date of birth
  • The name and address of the minor’s living parents
  • The name and address of any other person with legal custodial rights or responsibilities over the child
  • The reason you believe appointing an emergency temporary guardian is necessary

If you don’t wish to be a child’s temporary guardian, you will also need to provide information about the person whom you wish to appoint to this role.

The court may grant temporary guardianship if evidence suggests that doing so is necessary to prevent a minor from “immediate or irreparable harm.” Upon granting temporary guardianship, the court will typically require that a minor’s parents or other such custodial adults receive notice of the order. Parents can file written requests for hearings to address these matters more thoroughly.

Submit as much evidence as you can when petitioning the court for temporary guardianship of a child. The evidence you submit should demonstrate why emergency guardianship is necessary. For example, you may submit photos, witness statements, or other such evidence indicating a child is in danger in the presence of their other parent.

The evidence you submit may also need to demonstrate the relationship between a child and the potential temporary guardian. For instance, neighbors and acquaintances may be able to speak to the nature of your relationship with a child.

Contact an Iowa Family Law Attorney

You need to put forth a strong case when asking a court for a temporary guardianship. Doing so is often easier when you have qualified legal assistance.

At Arenson Law Group, PC, an Iowa family law attorney can help you show why temporary guardianship is necessary. Although a lawyer can never promise a specific outcome, our assistance may improve your chances of convincing the court to take your side. We can also assist you with other processes and tasks related to child custody and support, such as helping you work towards a permanent custody arrangement. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at (319) 363-8199 to set up your consultation.

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : March 13, 2024