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Cedar Rapids Lawyers for Legal Custody

There are two categories of child custody: physical child custody and legal child custody. It is common for two former spouses who have minor children to share joint legal and physical custody of their children. However, it is also possible for one parent to retain physical custody while sharing joint legal custody with the child’s other parent. And in some instances, though it rarely happens, courts will award sole physical and legal custody to just one parent.

If you’re divorcing or need to adjust your custody agreement, don’t try to go it alone. The Cedar Rapids child custody attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC have years of experience advocating for our clients to secure the legal custody arrangements that are best for their kids. Call us today at (319) 363-8199 for a confidential consultation to see how we can help.

custody law

What Is Legal Custody?

When a parent has legal custody of a child, it means they have the authority to make major decisions on the child’s behalf. Parents with legal custody have decision-making power over how the child will be raised and are allowed to have a say in decisions related to the child’s welfare, including their healthcare, education, safety, extracurricular activities, and religious affiliation.

Most spouses collaborate on these decisions while they are married, which is why the courts prefer to award both parents this legal authority after a divorce. In most states, including Iowa, judges are inclined to award joint legal custody to both parents. That way, both parents get to have an equal say in how their children grow up, where they attend school, what kind of medical care or procedures they undergo, and what activities they participate in. If you have pressing questions about your case, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team.

Differences Between Physical and Legal Custody

While legal custody has to do with decision-making authority, physical custody refers to where the children regularly reside. In some cases, parents share joint physical custody in addition to legal custody. In other situations, one parent may have sole physical custody while still sharing joint legal custody of their children. In situations where one parent has physical custody of the children, there will usually be a visitation schedule that allows the non-custodial parent to spend time with the children. This may include holiday breaks, long weekends, and other dates that suit the non-custodial parent’s schedule.

When Is Sole Legal Custody Appropriate?

Rarely, one parent will get sole physical and legal custody. If two parents cannot agree on any issue related to their children’s upbringing and the situation is untenable, a judge might award one parent sole legal custody. If major issues like medical care and extracurricular activities are ongoing points of conflict, then it may be in the children’s best interests to give decision-making authority to one parent.

Courts will also sometimes award sole legal custody if one parent is neglectful or abusive, if the non-custodial parent lives far away from the parent with physical custody, or if one of the parents is absent and does not often spend time with the children.

Sometimes, to minimize the potential for ongoing disputes, a judge will order joint legal custody, but designate one parent as the final decision-maker. In these arrangements, both parents get to have input on significant decisions involving their children, but when they cannot come to an agreement, one parent gets the last word. Although this is similar to sole legal custody in practice, it leaves more room for collaboration and allows both parents to participate in raising their kids after a divorce. If you have further questions about your case, reach out to us today.

Benefits of Joint Legal Custody

When determining who should have legal custody, a judge will always consider the children’s best interests first. Unless there is a history of abuse in the family, the parents live a great distance apart, or other circumstances disqualify a parent from getting legal custody, the courts typically consider joint legal custody to be in the best interests of the children. In fact, for a court to award sole legal custody, the party seeking this arrangement will have to demonstrate, with evidence, why the other parent is not fit to have legal custody of the children.

Some of the factors involved in determining what is in the best interests of the children with regard to legal custody include the relationship between each parent and their children, how each parent has prioritized their children’s best interests prior to the divorce, whether both parents are willing to collaborate, which parent is more inclined to permit the children to maintain regular contact with the other parent, and the moral code and integrity of each parent.

Joint legal custody has many benefits for children. Even though they are divorced, two ex-spouses who share joint legal custody must maintain communication with one another and must cooperate to make shared decisions for their children. It can be extremely beneficial for children to see their parents come together, work to find a compromise when disputes arise, and make decisions as a united front, even though they don’t live together anymore.

As long as both parents have shown that they can put their differences or grudges aside and work together for the benefit of their children, sharing legal custody is usually the most ideal way for two ex-spouses to co-parent.

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Contact a Cedar Rapids Child Custody Attorney Today

If you are going through a divorce and need help resolving a custody dispute, the compassionate Iowa child custody attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC can help. We understand how challenging it can be for parents to agree on issues like child custody. Our lawyers have the knowledge and resources to protect your parenting rights and help you seek a favorable outcome. We can also help you modify an existing child custody order if your circumstances have changed and you wish to amend the terms of your existing agreement.

Contact the Cedar Rapid child custody lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC today for a consultation. We will help you understand your legal rights and work to negotiate a fair custody arrangement with your spouse’s attorney. We also won’t hesitate to bring this matter before the court if need be. Call us at (319) 363-8199, or reach out to us online, to schedule an appointment with our office.