What is the most important part of your life? If you are a parent, chances are the answer is spending quality time with your child. Unfortunately, divorce can change your family dynamic and potentially separate you from your child.

At Arenson Law Group, PC, we know that being an active part of your child’s life is vital to you. Our legal team wants to help you create a physical custody arrangement that enriches your life and the life of your child. Our experienced child custody lawyers will take the time to learn about you, your child, and the specifics of your legal situation. Once we have the facts, we will work with you to craft an arrangement that provides the most favorable custody scenario for your child.

Divorce can be a complicated and confusing time for families. At Arenson Law Group, PC, our compassionate Cedar Rapids child custody lawyers will stand by you through this stressful time. If you need help coming to a physical custody agreement with your spouse, call our office at (319) 363-8199 for a confidential consultation.

What Is Physical Custody?

Physical custody is also sometimes referred to as physical care. In Iowa, physical custody or physical care refers to a parent’s right to care for a child and maintain a home for them. Whichever parent the child lives with most of the time has physical custody of the child.

Typically, an Iowa court will grant one parent physical care of a child and the other visitation rights. In Iowa, family courts don’t like continually uprooting a child and moving them between homes. Instead, they prefer to assign a “home base.”

In legal terminology, the parent who has physical care of the child is called the custodial parent. The other parent is referred to as the non-custodial parent. Since both parents are required to provide for a child’s needs, the court may require the non-custodial parent to pay child support. This money is supposed to maintain a child’s standard of living and help provide the essentials for them as they grow.

Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody

There are two distinct types of child custody arrangements in Iowa. There can be some confusion surrounding child custody arrangements because the terms “physical custody” and “legal custody” are often used interchangeably. However, legal custody is not the same as physical custody.

Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions for their child. These decisions can include educational choices, participation in extracurricular activities, and medical treatment. Legal custody does not dictate where the child lives. Physical custody agreements dictate which parent a child will reside with long-term.

In many situations, the court will award joint legal custody to both parents but sole physical custody to one parent. The court can grant sole legal and physical custody to only one parent if a judge believes it is in the best interest of the child.

How Are Custody Cases Decided in Iowa?

Iowa courts will always consider what is best for the child when determining what the child’s custody arrangements will be. To do this, they will examine a variety of factors, including:

  • The geographic proximity of both parents
  • Which parent would make a suitable custodian for the child
  • Whether the child’s needs suffer due to a lack of contact with one or the other parent
  • Can each parent support the other parent’s continued relationship with the child
  • Whether the parents can communicate with each about the needs of the child
  • The child’s preference for who they want to live with, depending on their age and maturity
  • Whether either parent has a history of abuse or neglect
  • Whether either parent has a relationship with or is cohabitating with a registered sex offender

A judge may also consider the following:

  • Income of each parent
  • Age and health of each parent
  • Ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs
  • Relationship between the child and other siblings

Iowa courts recognize the value both parents play in enriching a child’s life. Although physical care is generally given to one parent, generous visitation rights are typically granted to the other. In many situations, joint legal custody will be granted to both parents.

Sole legal and sole physical custody is typically reserved for situations where a court has concerns that continued interaction with the other parent would not be in the best interest of the child. Evidence of domestic abuse or neglect can result in a parent being denied physical and legal custody of their child.

Do You Need a Physical Custody Attorney?

Quite simply, yes. At Arenson Law Group, PC, we know that your relationship with your child means everything to you. Our legal team wants to help you maintain that close relationship and will help you fight to gain physical custody of your precious child.

Divorce is never an easy process. Child custody arrangements can get complicated, especially when you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye. If you and your partner can’t reach a custody agreement, it will be up to the Iowa family court system to reach an agreement for you. The last thing you want to do is go into court unprepared.

If divorce is on the table, discuss your situation with a knowledgeable child custody attorney. An attorney can review your case and help you protect your rights as a parent. If you have already been to court and are not happy with the outcome of your case, talk to our team about the potential of modifying your existing child custody agreement. At Arenson Law Group, PC, we want to help you achieve what’s best for your family.

Contact a Cedar Rapids Child Custody Attorney to Discuss Your Case

At Arenson Law Group, PC, we have over 15 years of legal experience handling family law and child custody cases in Iowa. We know divorce can be an emotionally challenging time for you and your child. If you are looking for sound legal advice and a shoulder to lean on, look no further than the compassionate family law team at Arenson Law Group, PC.

To discuss the specifics of your child custody case, call our Cedar Rapids office today at (319) 363-8199. We will set you up with a confidential consultation.

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : January 20, 2023
(319) 363-8199