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When can you change child custody in Iowa?

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2021 | Divorce

After courts issue a child custody order, both parents must abide by its terms. However, sometimes the parenting schedule that works after divorce does not meet the family’s needs after a few years. 

Review the process of changing a legal child custody order in Iowa. 

Reasons for modification

Iowa requires a significant change in the circumstances of one or both parents to issue a custody modification. Examples of this type of change include: 

  • Remarriage  
  • Relocation 
  • Changes in mental, emotional or physical health 
  • Changes in assets, income, earning capacity or employment status 

This is not a comprehensive list. A parent requesting custody modification may provide evidence of a different circumstantial change. 

Process of modification

Either parent may ask the court for a custody modification. For a small change, such as a revised visitation schedule, the parent must show the court how the change in circumstances affects the current custody order. 

When a parent wants a larger change in custody, such as a shift in the primary caregiver, the court requires an elevated standard of proof to grant the change. He or she must show that this change would improve the child’s life significantly compared to the current custody situation. 

To start the process, the parent must file the Application to Modify an Order in the Iowa county that issued the initial custody order. After the court receives the petition and filing fee, the clerk will schedule a hearing. Both parents may present their case for or against modification, whether they agree or disagree on the need for a change in custody.