During divorce and child custody disputes, many parents worry they will not have the parenting time they need to maintain strong bonds with their child. At The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, we understand how important parenting time is to develop and nurture parent-child relationships. Located in West Des Moines, our child custody lawyers work hard to get clients the custody and visitation orders they need to protect their parental rights.
As a parent, you have the right to establish and maintain a meaningful relationship with your child. At The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, we will help you protect that right. Our West Des Moines child custody attorneys are dedicated and skilled professionals. We are always prepared for a fight and use every legal tool available to protect our clients' parent-child bonds.
In Iowa, there are two types of custody:
In Iowa, there is no presumption of joint custody. Instead, parents must petition the court for joint physical care. Judges then make custody and visitation determinations based on the best interests of the child.
When children are born outside of marriage, additional steps must be taken to establish paternity before fathers have custody rights to their children. At The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, our child custody lawyers in Des Moines, Iowa help fathers establish their paternal rights.
Parenting plans are often used to determine custody and visitation schedules. Parenting plans are complex documents. While they must clearly dictate how parenting time is shared, transportation schedules, how school events will be attended and where children will spend weekends and holidays, they must be flexible enough to accommodate the realities of life.
How are child custody cases decided in Iowa? Every state has its own particular set of guidelines. However, the main factor in any child custody case continues to be what is in the best interests of the child.
How do the courts decide child custody?
Sometimes parents can work out many of their matters without needing to bring the matter to court. Mediation, for example, provides a confidential platform for parents to negotiate and work out their own arrangements for child custody and other such matters. A judge would only need to approve the arrangements on the basis that the decisions have been made in the child’s best interests.
In Iowa, the courts tend to favor awarding joint custody, if possible, since that is often in the child’s best interests. Rights and responsibilities of joint legal custodial include equal participation in decisions affecting the child’s legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.
These are the following factors that the courts consider:
The child’s age, mental, and physical health
The child’s educational, social, emotional, material, and healthcare needs
The relative stability of each parent
Whether the parents can effectively communicate
Whether each parent can support the other parents relationship with the child
The relationship the child has between his or her parents and siblings
Whether or not the parent has committed anything morally objectionable, such as having a history of alcohol or drug abuse or domestic abuse
The long-term effects that the custody arrangements will have on the child
Since custody is decided based on the best interest of the child, a parent that is the primary physical caregiver may not end up being awarded primary custody if they demonstrate that they are unstable. Judges will not only look at instances of physical abuse, substance abuse, and neglect, but they will also look at the impacts of parental behavior on the child. So, if a parent is behaving in potentially harmful, erratic ways, they may end up not being awarded custody.
For this reason, it’s important that you maintain a healthy, stable environment if you are going to argue that your children should be in your primary care.
Contact us now to schedule a free consultation with a West Des Moines child custody lawyer!