Following a divorce, parents can agree to a custody agreement. In that case, they may request the court to enter an order that enforces such an agreement. However, if the parents cannot find common ground regarding the custody of their children, the court will focus on the child’s best interests when awarding custody. Various aspects are considered when deciding on these best interests.
Types of child custody
Custody can be legal, which involves making important decisions regarding the child, such as medical care and education. It can also be physical, which defines where the child spends the majority of their time. The parent with primary physical custody is legally obligated to maintain a conducive home environment and provide care to the child.
Either type of custody may be joint or sole. Joint custody grants both parents equal rights and responsibilities related to child custody, while only one parent bears such rights in sole custody.
What do Iowa courts consider when awarding child custody?
Usually, the court prefers a situation where both parents are present in the child’s life. In some cases, overbearing circumstances may prevent that from happening. The court will look at, among other things:
- Any history of domestic abuse by either parent
- The child’s safety under each parent
- If both parents can adequately discharge their parental responsibilities
- The child’s relationship with the parents, before and after the separation
- The proximity of the parents’ homes
- The child’s wishes, considering their age and maturity
- Any other factors that may be relevant as determined by the court
How the case proceeds
Usually, the court will set a date to hear testimony and collect evidence. Witness testimony that details the parent/child relationship may be accepted. The judge will then decide within a few weeks and enter an order defining each parent’s custodial rights.
It is, therefore, crucial that you know how the law operates regarding child custody. That way, you can anticipate whatever comes your way and protect your rights along the way.