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2011 Iowa Custody Study

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 Preserving the parent-child relationship in separated families!


Joint Physical Care Research


Around 1400 families split up in Polk County last year. Statistically, 427 sets of parents reside in the same zip code, the average number of children per separation is 1.5, and the average age of the children was 5 years old (Source: Polk County Fatherhood Initiative, January 2006).


Seventy-two percent (72%) of U.S. citizens believe the most significant social problem facing our country today is the physical absence of the father from the home, resulting in a lack of involvement of fathers in the rearing and development of children.  Unfortunately, in many cases the former spouse’s actions, lack of father support, the artificial nature of “visitation”, and the unequal parenting power lead to a reduction in father involvement (Gallop Poll - The National Center for Fathering (1999), Today's Father, v 7).


The U.S. Supreme Court regards parental rights as fundamental. Such a status should subject any legal procedure that directly and substantively interferes with the exercise of parental rights to strict scrutiny. On the contrary, though, despite their status as fundamental constitutional rights, parental rights are routinely suspended or revoked as a result of procedures that fail to meet even minimal standards of procedural and substantive due process. This routine and cavalier deprivation of parental rights takes place in the context of divorce where, during the pendency of litigation, one parent is routinely deprived of significant parental rights without any demonstration that a state interest exists—much less that there is a compelling state interest that cannot be achieved in any less restrictive way. In marked contrast to our current practice, treating parental rights as fundamental rights requires a presumption of joint legal and physical custody upon divorce and during the pendency of divorce litigation.  The presumption may be overcome, but only by clear and convincing evidence that such an arrangement is harmful to the children (Hubin, Donald C., "Parental Rights and Due Process,"   Journal of Law and Family Studies, vol. 1, no. 2.  University of Utah, 1999.  pp. 123-150).


Women received physical placement in 84.4% of the cases and men 15.6% (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, released February 2005).


The most prevalent custody arrangement was the mother having both legal and physical custody (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, released February 2005).


The second most common custody arrangement was joint legal custody between both parents with the mother having sole physical custody (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, released February 2005).


Approximately $24 billion was paid exclusively for child support (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, released February 2005).


76% of child support payments were court ordered (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, released February 2005).


Male providers were more likely to make the child support payment (80%) than female providers (55%) (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, released February 2005).

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