Dissolution of Marriage: Factors Affecting Custody Rights

Under Iowa law, when the Court makes a determination regarding which parent or parents should have custody of a child or children, the Court looks at what serves the best interests of the child or children. A determinative factor of the best interests of the child is which parent will do better in raising the child, and the gender of the parent in itself is irrelevant. Thus, it is not the case that a particular parent should be favored in custodial disputes purely by virtue of the fact that the parent happens to be of a particular gender.

The Court may look at several factors, as set forth in Iowa Code Section 598.41, in making determinations in regard to child custody. These include but are not limited to:

  • Whether a history of domestic abuse exists between the parents
  • One parent’s denial of contact between the other parent and the child
  • Whether each parent would be a suitable custodian for the child
  • Whether the psychological and emotional needs and development of the child will suffer due to lack of active contact with and attention from both parents
  • Whether the parents can communicate with each other regarding the child’s needs
  • Whether both parents have actively cared for the child before and since the separation.
  • Whether each parent can support the other parent’s relationship with the child
  • Whether the custody arrangement is in accord with the child’s wishes or whether the child has strong opposition, taking into consideration the child’s age and maturity
  • Whether one or both of the parents agree or are opposed to joint custody
  • The geographic proximity of the parents
  • Whether the safety of the child, other children, or the other parent will be jeopardized by the awarding of joint custody or by unsupervised or unrestricted visitation

The factors concerning custody decisions apply whether the parties are dissolving their marriage or are unwed. Thus, whether you are in the midst of a paternity case, a dissolution of marriage case, or a modification case, the Court may consider some of the factors outlined above in deciding your custody dispute.

It can be difficult to understand how these factors above, and other factors, bear on your particular custodial issues. A qualified Cedar Rapids child custody lawyer should be able to help you better navigate through your proceeding and understand the law applicable to your case.