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2011 Iowa Custody Study

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 Preserving the parent-child relationship in separated families!


Joint Physical Care:

Joint physical care is when both parents share physical placement of the child(ren).  Simply defined, joint physical care allows the child(ren) to live with each parent 50% of the time during the year.  Research has shown that child(ren) need equal access to both parents and joint physical care accomplishes this challenge.  Parenting schedules are established to determine when each parent has the child(ren) living with them.  The most frequent joint physical care schedule is one week at moms, the next week at dads, and holidays are usually alternated. The State of Iowa, allows parents to determine what parenting schedule best meets the needs of their child(ren). Joint physical care is established in Iowa Statute 598.41(5)(a).


Iowa Statute 598.1(4) states, "Joint physical care" means an award of physical care of a minor child to both joint legal custodial parents under which both parents have rights and responsibilities toward the child including, but not limited to, shared parenting time with the child, maintaining homes for the child, providing routine care for the child and under which neither parent has physical care rights superior to those of the other parent.


Iowa Statute 598.41(5)(a) currently states, “If joint legal custody is awarded to both parents, the court may award joint physical care to both joint custodial parents upon the request of either parent.  Prior to ruling on the request for the award of joint physical care, the court may require the parents to submit, either individually or jointly, a proposed joint  physical care parenting plan.  A proposed joint physical care parenting plan shall address how the parents will make decisions affecting the child, how the parents will provide a home for the child, how the child’s time will be divided between the parents and how each parent will facilitate the child’s time with the other parent, arrangements in addition to court-ordered child support for the child’s expenses, how the parents will resolve major changes or disagreements affecting the child including changes that arise due to the child’s age and developmental needs, and any other issues the court may require.  If the court denies the request for joint physical care, the determination shall be accompanied by specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that the awarding of joint physical care is not in the best interest of the child.”