Des Moines Child Custody Attorney
The issue of child custody is often a major concern for parents in Iowa. At Higgins Law Firm PLLC, we understand how difficult this situation can be for both parents and their children. We are dedicated to helping our clients protect their rights and achieve the best possible outcome for their case.
Our Des Moines child custody attorneys are experienced in Iowa family law and can provide you with knowledgeable legal advice to help you navigate the process. We will work tirelessly to ensure your rights, as well as those of your children, are protected throughout the entire process. If you need help with a child custody matter, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We’re here to help.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
In Iowa, there are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody deals with the decision-making rights concerning a child’s upbringing, while physical custody focuses on where the child lives and who they spend their time with.
In some cases, parents may be awarded joint or shared legal and physical custody of their child. This means both parents will have an equal say in major decisions affecting the child, and that the child may spend time living with both parents. It is important to note, however, that a court will always make its decision based on what is best for the child.
Legal custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of a parent in making decisions about their child’s upbringing. This means that the parent with legal custody has the authority to make decisions about the child’s life and is responsible for ensuring that these decisions are in the best interest of the child. Areas commonly included in legal custody included:
- Legal status: This includes decisions related to the child’s legal identity, such as their name, birth certificate, and any legal documents related to the child.
- Medical care: This includes decisions about the child’s healthcare, including choosing a healthcare provider, obtaining medical treatment or therapy, and making decisions about medical procedures or treatments.
- Education: This includes decisions about the child’s education, such as choosing a school or educational program, enrolling the child in extracurricular activities or tutoring, and making decisions about the child’s academic progress or needs.
- Extracurricular activities: This includes decisions about the child’s participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports, music lessons, or clubs.
- Religious instruction: This includes decisions about the child’s religious upbringing and education, including choosing a place of worship and deciding on the child’s participation in religious activities or instruction.
Sole Legal Custody
Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child. This can be granted in instances where one parent is deemed unfit to make decisions, or if both parents agree that one parent should have sole custody.
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody means that both parents have the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child. This is often preferred in cases where both parents are willing to work together to ensure the best interest of their child is met. With joint legal custody, both parents are responsible for making decisions about their child’s education, healthcare, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.
Physical custody refers to where the child will live. There are two types of physical custody: sole physical custody and joint physical custody.
Sole Physical Custody
Sole physical custody means that the child resides with one parent, while the other parent may have visitation rights but does not reside with the child most of the time. This type of custody is often awarded in cases where one parent is deemed unfit to care for the child, or if the court determines that it is in the best interest of the child for them to live with only one parent.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to care for their child. This type of custody is awarded when the court deems it in the best interest of the child for them to have a relationship with both parents. With joint physical custody, the child may reside most of the time with one parent but will visit and stay with the other parent on predetermined days or periods.
Visitation rights refer to the legal right of a parent who does not have physical custody of their child to spend time with them. Visitation rights can be awarded in limited or supervised situations, or they can allow for regular and unsupervised visitation periods between the non-custodial parent and the child. Visitation rights are often established as part of the child custody agreement and can be modified as needed.
Factors That Determine Custody in Iowa
In Iowa, the court may consider a number of factors when determining child custody. These include:
- The wishes of the parents and the child regarding custody.
- The relationships and interactions of the child with the parents, siblings, and other important people.
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community.
- The mental and physical health of all involved parties.
- The primary caretaker of the child.
- The need for a stable and nurturing environment for the child.
- The presence or history of domestic abuse.
- The importance of maintaining existing relationships.
- The ability and willingness of the parents to give love, affection, guidance, and cultural or religious upbringing to the child.
- The impact on the child of any domestic abuse that has occurred between the parents or between the child and another person.
When considering joint custody, the court may also consider:
- The ability of the parents to communicate and work together on matters related to the child.
- The willingness of the parents to accept custody and any conditions set by the court.
- The potential disruption to the child’s social and school life.
- The distance between the parents’ homes and the time and arrangements needed for the child’s transportation.
- The appropriateness of the current living arrangements for the child and the potential impact of any changes.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
At Higgins Law Firm PLLC, we understand that child custody cases can be challenging. We are dedicated to helping our clients protect their rights and achieve the best possible outcome for their children. With years of experience in family law and a deep understanding of Iowa’s child custody laws, our team can provide you with the skilled legal representation you need for your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.