Often one of the more challenging parts of a divorce is the decision of how to care for your minor children. Starcevic Law offers clients the experience of a Des Moines child custody attorney to guide them in the issues of custody and physical care of their children. If you are contemplating divorce and have children, we can explain to you how child custody will be determined and what legal rights you may have as a parent after divorce.
Child Custody in Iowa
Iowa recognizes two concepts of what is commonly considered child custody. Legal Custody refers to rights and responsibilities regarding the child’s legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities and religious education. Physical Care refers to the right to maintain the principle home and provide routine care for the child. Parties will be awarded either Joint or Sole Legal Custody. Both parties may be awarded Joint Physical Care, or one party may be awarded Primary Physical Care and the other party may be awarded visitation.
When possible, it is preferable to arrive at an agreement with your spouse on how to divide parenting time and where the child should primarily live. If you and your spouse can arrive at an agreement on how to raise your child after divorce, the transition will be much smoother for your entire family. If you can’t reach an agreement with your spouse or partner, the Court will make the decision for you.
The primary consideration of the Court in child custody is the best interests of the child. The Court’s objective will be to place the child in an environment most likely to bring the children to healthy physical, mental and social maturity. A few of factors the Court may consider include:
- The characteristics of each child, including age, maturity, and health
- The emotional, social, moral, material and educational needs of the child
- The characteristics of each parent including age, character, stability, and health
- The capacity and interest of each parent to provide for the needs of the child
- The interpersonal relationship between the child and each parent
- The interpersonal relationship between the child and its siblings
- The effect on the child of continuing or disrupting an existing custodial status
- The nature of each proposed environment
- The preference of the child, if the child sufficient age and maturity
- The recommendation of an independent investigator
- Any other relevant evidence
If the parties cannot agree, the Court will consider the above relevant factors and decide what the parents should have for legal custody and physical care of the child. This decision will also affect other aspects of your divorce including child support and alimony. A parent awarded primary care is considered the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent will generally have the right to scheduled visitation that fits into the child’s school and vacation schedules, and does not interfere with the health or welfare of the child.
The process of dissolving your marriage is challenging for your entire family. Children in particular are affected by the life changes following a divorce, but there are steps that you can take to ease this transition. We will work with you and your spouse to reach an agreement on custody and visitation for your child that works best for everyone.
If you are involved in a divorce and have questions about child custody and visitation, then we invite you to contact the Law Office of Evan J. Starcevic P.C. for a consultation.