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2011 Iowa Custody Study

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 Preserving the parent-child relationship in separated families!


Joint Physical Care Research

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).


A study just released by UNICEF ranked the top 21 wealthiest countries in the world on their children’s well being.  The United States received the second worst ranking (20 out of 21), citing divorce and the number of children being raised in single-parent households as major risk factors. Click here for the UNICEF Report Card 7, released in 2007.


All thirty-three comparative studies in the U.S. comparing the outcomes of children in joint physical care to those in the care of only one parent found that children in joint physical care have better outcomes. (“Child Custody in Joint-Custody Versus Sole Custody Arrangements…” by Dr. Robert Bauserman, published in Journal of Family Psychology, 2002, Vol 16, No 1).


International comparative research demonstrates that by all twenty-six accepted measures of child well-being, children in joint physical care have better outcomes than children in the care of only one parent (Father and Child Reunion, Dr. Warren Farrell, Tarcher/Putman, 2001).


A recent survey, The Changing Shape of the American Family, found that “Nearly nine in ten (88%) of U.S. adults say divorce has a negative impact on maintaining a stable American family life.”


One of the most important steps for reducing conflict in a divorce is for state legislatures to enact clearer guidelines for determining custody (Custody Disputed by Emery, Robert E.; Otto, Randy K.; O'donohue, William. Scientific American Mind; 2005, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p64-67, 4p, 1bw).


80% of children with divorcing or divorced parents experience some form of Parental Alienation.  20% of these children experience such behaviors at least once a day (Source: American Bar Association).


Nationwide, the number of children living without their father has exceeded 25 million. In Iowa, Polk County is contributing 21,000 children to this national statistic. The rates of fatherless children are increasing due to divorce and children born out of wedlock. Children whose fathers are actively involved have better social and economic outcomes (Source: Polk County Fatherhood Initiative, January 2006).

The language associated with divorce suggests: a broken home implies that something needs to be fixed; visitation implies that one parent is a “visitor”; custody implies “ownership.” Parents need to devise parenting plans and share parenting responsibilities. (“The Divorce is Over- What About the Kids?” by Mitchell K. Karpf and Irene M. Shatz PhD, published in American Journal of Family Law, Spring 2005, Vol. 19 Issue 1).

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