Emancipation and Minor Guardianships
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
Emancipation and Minor Guardianships to Prevent Runaways
Children are not allowed to make their own decisions. Instead, they rely on parents to help them make good decisions. However, sometimes a child’s parents are unable to make good decisions for them. Sometimes a parent is unable to overcome obstacles in his or her life, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, or mental illness. Under these circumstances, children often need to look for another adult, such as a relative or a family friend, to make decisions for them.
- Durable Power of Attorney for a Minor Child;
- Guardianship for a Minor Child; and
- Emancipation of a Minor Child.
- The document gives another adult the ability to make decisions a parent would usually make for a child.
- It can help the adult get benefits for the child like:
- receiving state food assistance;
- getting a medical card for the child;
- enrolling a child in school; and
- authorizing the child to receive medical assistance.
- Some of the benefits of using a Power of Attorney form include:
- It does not terminate a parent’s rights for a child; and
- It can be cancelled by a parent in writing at any time.
A Guardianship is a legal action where a judge gives custody of a child to a responsible adult. This means the judge finds the parents are unable to care for their child.
- It is a very serious legal proceeding which parents should carefully consider before taking any action.
- It means a parent can no longer make decisions for the child—these decisions will now be made by the guardian.
- It also cannot be ended at any time by a parent--only a judge can terminate a guardianship.
- If the parents and the guardian cannot agree regarding when a guardianship should end, a hearing will have to be scheduled.
- A judge will make a decision based on what is best for the child.
- The parents agree to let the child live on his or her own;
- The parents agree to let the child live out of the family home for at least 3 months, living on his or her own; or
- The child can give reasons why the home of the parents or guardians is not a healthy or safe environment.
- Proof of employment (state, federal, or local government assistance does not count as employment);
- Showing the child can handle his/her own personal matters; and
- Showing the child is able and committed to going to school, a training program or employment.
- Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans.
- To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:
- Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or
- apply online at iowalegalaid.org