Child Custody Arrangments

  

Sole Legal Custody: 

In Iowa, "Legal custody" or "custody" means an award of the rights of legal custody of a minor child to a parent under which a parent has legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward the child. Rights and responsibilities of legal custody include, but are not limited to, decision making affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction. Legal custody is defined in Iowa Statute 598.1(5). 


Joint Legal Custody: 

"Joint custody" or "joint legal custody" means an award of legal custody of a minor child to both parents jointly under which both parents have legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward the child and under which neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to those of the other parent.  Rights and responsibilities of joint legal custody include, but are not limited to, equal participation in decisions affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction. Joint legal custody is defined in Iowa Statute 598.1(3). 


In Iowa, found within an awarding of "Joint Legal Custody" will be one of the following physical placement provisions:


1) “Joint Physical Care.” 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.


2) "Primary Physical Care" or "Physical Care" means the right and responsibility to maintain a home for the minor child and provide for the routine care of the child. Physical care is defined in Iowa Statute 598.1(7). Simply defined, primary physical care is awarded to the parent whom the child will reside with the majority of the time.


Iowa, like many states, puts parents into classifications.  In Iowa a parent will automatically be put into one of the following classifications (unless Joint Physical Care is awarded):


Custodial Parent: 

Contrary to popular belief, custodial parent is nowhere defined or legally established under Iowa Code 598. 


Often times, the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) considers this the parent receiving child support.  The Court considers this the parent who is awarded primary physical care of the children. 


Non-Custodial Parent: 

The father or mother of a child, who supports, loves, cares, educates, disciplines, and raises their child, to the fullest extent that is allowed by Court Order. 


Contrary to popular belief, non-custodial parent is nowhere defined or legally established under Iowa Code 598.


Often times, the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) considers this parent the one assigned the obligation of child support.  The Court considers this the parent who is awarded visitation rights with the children.