In this article, we answer the question "what factors do courts consider when determining child custody in Iowa?". We address the following:
For some foundational information, check out our article: Iowa Child Custody Law Explained.
Child custody is the legal term used to describe the legal and physical custodial arrangements between a child and their parent(s) and/or guardian(s). In Iowa, there are four possible forms of child custody.
Being awarded joint custody of one type does not guarantee joint custody of the other. For example, both parents might share joint legal custody of a child, but the child might only live with one parent full-time.
The Iowa court considers several factors when deciding a child custody case. Because every child custody case is unique, it’s impossible to say which, if any, of the following factors are weighed more heavily than others by a judge.
In Iowa, most courts require at least one mediation session take place before a child custody case is taken to trial. If mediation fails, a trial will then be scheduled. At the trial, each parent is typically represented by a custody lawyer of their choice. After being presented with evidence and witness testimony from both sides, a judge will determine custody arrangements. The custody order is typically entered within a few weeks of a trial’s completion.
If there is a history of domestic abuse (this includes protective orders, police involvement over domestic abuse claims, and convictions of domestic assault) with either parent, joint custody will not be automatically pursued. In regard to domestic abuse, sole custody is typically the best arrangement for a child. But if the parent in question’s legal team can prove there is no risk to the child, joint custody can still be awarded in such cases.
After a custody decision has been reached, it is up to the parents to uphold the terms and conditions. If one fails to do so, the opposing parent can file a court action. If a parent is found to have violated a court order, such as denying visitation, they may be found in contempt and face consequences decided upon by the court.
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