How Is Child Custody Determined In Iowa?

In Iowa, the best interest of the child is the driving force in determining custody and visitation. In many cases, the best interest of child means finding a way to keep both parents actively involved in the child's life, with shared rights and responsibilities. This could involve:

  • Joint custody, in which both parents have legal custody and an equal say in decision-making in terms of education, health care and other decisions
  • Joint physical care, in which parenting time is shared by the parents, with each regularly caring for and housing the child

In some cases joint custody or physical care may not be in the best interest of the child. Things to consider — and that a judge may consider — in determining a child's best interest include:

  • Where each parent lives
  • How each parent has cared for the child in the past
  • The child's wishes, depending on their age
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse
  • Each parent's ability to care for the child emotionally and physically
  • How well the parents are able to communicate with each other

While a judge may eventually be the one making a decision on child custody and visitation rights, parents are typically encouraged to reach a resolution outside of court. You may be required to go through multiple rounds of mediation before your case goes to court.

When Mediation Isn't Successful

In some cases, mediation won't work to reach an acceptable agreement. The other parent may pose a danger to you or your child, or they may be completely unreasonable or unwilling to negotiate. In this type of situation, your case may need to be argued in court in front of a judge.

We Will Fight For The Right Custody Arrangement For You

The experienced trial lawyers at Carr & Wright, P.L.C., are prepared to advocate for you in court. Our willingness to appear in court can also help us negotiate more effectively with the other side outside of court.

If your circumstances change (for example, if you or your ex remarries or moves out of state), we can assist with modifications to your custody and visitation arrangement. If you believe your ex is not following your agreement, we can assist with enforcement actions.

Contact our Des Moines firm at 515-259-1389 or by email to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your situation.