The traditional approach in Iowa is joint legal custody with primary physical care to one party, typically the mother and visitation to the father. In recent years, fathers rights have become a bigger issue and many women work as much as men who more and very involved in caring for the children. Hence, Iowa courts are more likely now to award joint physical care if both parties have been very involved in child rearing.
Factors Iowa Courts consider in awarding Joint Physical Care
1. Stability and Continuity
Iowa courts prefer to limit joint physical care to couples that have had a history or very active participation by both parents in child rearing. So if one party has left most or all of child rearing to the other during the marriage, joint physical care may not be appropriate. The focus is more on what continuing what the kids have become used to. So if one parent has historically cared for the child 2/3 of the time, the joint physical care order may call for then to continue 2/3 and the other party to have 1/3. This is a recognition that fathers in particular are much more involved in parenting that in the past. The traditional once a week, every other weekend and 6 weeks in the summer just does not cut it for either kids are parents in many cases.
2. Communication & Respect
Our Judges are a lot more comfortable awarding joint custody where there has been good communication and respect shown between that parties, especially with respect to the children. If there is no trust between the parents, joint physical care is less likely to be approved.
3. Degree of Conflict
Since joint physical care requires a lot of give and take between the parties, marriages that have been conflict ridden, followed by divorces involving various charges and counter charges do not support an order of shared physical care. Uncontested divorces are more likely to result in joint physical care than contested cases.
4. Agreement as to Child Rearing Practices
If the parties are in general agreement about how the kids should be raised including discipline, bed times etc,, joint physical care makes more sense.
Jeff Mathias Law Office, 4800 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 218, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265, 515-261-7526 or Toll Free, 1-800-997-1395. Divorce in Iowa website.
How does joint physical care affect child support?
When a judge here in Des Moines or elsewhere in Iowa orders joint legal care, child support is calculated for both parents. Whichever parent would be obligated to pay the higher amount does pay support to the other minus the amount they would receive. In cases where both parties earn approximately the same amount and share custody equally, there may be no child support. See Jeff's History of Divorce and Child Support.
See Divorce in Iowa with no children and no lawyer.