Generally, the courts in Iowa see the value in having both parents involved in a child’s upbringing. Unfortunately, not all people are fit to be parents. If you have concerns about your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s parental abilities or the safety of your children while in their other parent’s care, you may need to seek sole custody.
At Arenson Law Group, PC, our compassionate family law attorneys want to hear your story. We are committed to advocating for parents and their children. If you are a parent going through a divorce, you need a strong and proactive attorney on your side willing to help you fight to protect your children. Contact our Cedar Rapid child custody lawyers today at (319) 363-8199 to set up a confidential consultation.
Iowa’s Child Custody Laws
Iowa’s laws require that, in child custody matters, the best interest of the child is one of the primary determining factors. Additionally, the court must consider what custody arrangement gives the child the best opportunity for the most possible emotional and physical contact with both parents after the divorce. If the parents can’t agree on what is best for the child, the court will step in and make a determination about what is best for the child. One of the options is “sole custody.”
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
Before we delve into what sole custody means, it is crucial to understand the terms used to differentiate types of custody. Often, the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody” are used interchangeably. However, these two types of custody are quite different. If you are seeking sole custody of a child during a divorce, it is vital that you understand the difference between them.
Physical custody is granted to the parent with whom the child legally resides. Legal custody, on the other hand, grants a parent the right to make crucial decisions for their children. These decisions can include medical care, how and where the child will be educated, and what recreational activities the child may participate in. A parent can seek sole physical custody and joint legal custody, joint physical custody and sole legal custody, joint physical and legal custody, or they may pursue sole legal and physical custody.
What Is Sole Custody?
Sole legal custody means only one parent has the power to make decisions on behalf of their child. Sole physical custody means the child lives with only one parent rather than splitting their time between the parent’s domiciles. The other parent may or may not have visitation rights.
Iowa judges generally recognize the value of having two productive parents involved in raising a child. Commonly, the courts prefer to award joint legal custody to both parents and sole physical custody to one parent. This arrangement gives decision-making power to both parents while allowing a child to feel safe in one home environment without worrying about being uprooted every other week or on some other schedule. The non-custodial parent will typically have visitation rights. The non-custodial parent may also have to pay child support to the custodial parent to help provide the child with financial stability.
How Does a Parent Get Sole Custody?
Iowa courts rarely grant sole physical and legal custody to one parent. Doing so effectively cuts off the access and decision-making responsibilities of the other parent. There must be clear and convincing evidence that awarding joint custody does not benefit the child. This evidence could include:
- A history of domestic violence
- The existence of a protective order
- A history of substance abuse
Essentially, it must be established that a relationship with one of the parents would be detrimental to the health and safety of the child. A history of domestic violence or assault is generally compelling enough evidence to convince a court that sole custody is in the best interest of the child. However, evidence of ongoing substance abuse, severe mental health issues, or suicidal tendencies may also be grounds for awarding sole custody to the other parent.
Similarly, a court may decide against awarding joint custody when a parent is convicted of crimes that may put a child in danger. Evidence of sexual abuse, inappropriate sexual conduct with a child, and other violent or sexual offenses may result in sole custody being granted to only one parent.
Why You Need an Aggressive Family Law Attorney
If you believe your child would be in danger or at risk for not having their basic needs met if custody is granted to your spouse, you need an aggressive Cedar Rapid family law attorney fighting for you.
No one wants a divorce to be a battle, but we know you would do anything to protect your children. A thoughtful and experienced attorney can help you pursue a custody arrangement tailored to meet the best interests of your children. At Arenson Law Group, PC, we begin by listening to your story and carefully assessing your situation. Next, we will gather evidence to support your case and establish why sole custody would be the best outcome for your child.
We know how important protecting your child is to you, and we will go out of our way to build a compelling case that offers you the best chance at reaching the custody outcome that offers your child the best future.
Contact an Experienced Cedar Rapid Family Law Attorney Today
Divorce is never easy, particularly when you plan to seek sole custody of a child. The legal team at Arenson Law Group, PC has more than 15 years of family law experience. We know what it takes to build a strong child custody case while protecting the best interests of you and your children.
If you have concerns about custody arrangements for your child or believe your spouse is an unfit parent, contact a seasoned Cedar Rapids child custody attorney with Arenson Law Group, PC today. Let us provide you with legal advice and a supportive shoulder to lean on. We want to help you achieve the best outcome so you and your child can move forward with your lives. Contact our Cedar Rapids office at (319) 363-8199 for a confidential consultation about your case.
Written by James H. ArensonLast Updated : January 20, 2023