2009 Iowa Code
Title 15 - Judicial Branch and Judicial Procedures
Subtitle 1 - Domestic Relations
CHAPTER 598 - DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE AND DOMESTIC RELATIONS
598.41 - CUSTODY OF CHILDREN.

        598.41  CUSTODY OF CHILDREN.
         1. a.  The court may provide for joint custody of the child by
      the parties.  The court, insofar as is reasonable and in the best
      interest of the child, shall order the custody award, including
      liberal visitation rights where appropriate, which will assure the
      child the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and
      emotional contact with both parents after the parents have separated
      or dissolved the marriage, and which will encourage parents to share
      the rights and responsibilities of raising the child unless direct
      physical harm or significant emotional harm to the child, other
      children, or a parent is likely to result from such contact with one
      parent.
         b.  Notwithstanding paragraph "a", if the court finds that
      a history of domestic abuse exists, a rebuttable presumption against
      the awarding of joint custody exists.
         c.  The court shall consider the denial by one parent of the
      child's opportunity for maximum continuing contact with the other
      parent, without just cause, a significant factor in determining the
      proper custody arrangement.  Just cause may include a determination
      by the court pursuant to subsection 3, paragraph "j", that a
      history of domestic abuse exists between the parents.
         d.  If a history of domestic abuse exists as determined by a
      court pursuant to subsection 3, paragraph "j", and if a parent
      who is a victim of such domestic abuse relocates or is absent from
      the home based upon the fear of or actual acts or threats of domestic
      abuse perpetrated by the other parent, the court shall not consider
      the relocation or absence of that parent as a factor against that
      parent in the awarding of custody or visitation.
         e.  Unless otherwise ordered by the court in the custody
      decree, both parents shall have legal access to information
      concerning the child, including but not limited to medical,
      educational and law enforcement records.
         2. a.  On the application of either parent, the court shall
      consider granting joint custody in cases where the parents do not
      agree to joint custody.
         b.  If the court does not grant joint custody under this
      subsection, the court shall cite clear and convincing evidence,
      pursuant to the factors in subsection 3, that joint custody is
      unreasonable and not in the best interest of the child to the extent
      that the legal custodial relationship between the child and a parent
      should be severed.
         c.  A finding by the court that a history of domestic abuse
      exists, as specified in subsection 3, paragraph "j", which is not
      rebutted, shall outweigh consideration of any other factor specified
      in subsection 3 in the determination of the awarding of custody under
      this subsection.
         d.  Before ruling upon the joint custody petition in these
      cases, unless the court determines that a history of domestic abuse
      exists as specified in subsection 3, paragraph "j", or unless the
      court determines that direct physical harm or significant emotional
      harm to the child, other children, or a parent is likely to result,
      the court may require the parties to participate in custody mediation
      to determine whether joint custody is in the best interest of the
      child.  The court may require the child's participation in the
      mediation insofar as the court determines the child's participation
      is advisable.
         e.  The costs of custody mediation shall be paid in full or in
      part by the parties and taxed as court costs.
         3.  In considering what custody arrangement under subsection 2 is
      in the best interest of the minor child, the court shall consider the
      following factors:
         a.  Whether each parent would be a suitable custodian for the
      child.
         b.  Whether the psychological and emotional needs and
      development of the child will suffer due to lack of active contact
      with and attention from both parents.
         c.  Whether the parents can communicate with each other
      regarding the child's needs.
         d.  Whether both parents have actively cared for the child
      before and since the separation.
         e.  Whether each parent can support the other parent's
      relationship with the child.
         f.  Whether the custody arrangement is in accord with the
      child's wishes or whether the child has strong opposition, taking
      into consideration the child's age and maturity.
         g.  Whether one or both the parents agree or are opposed to
      joint custody.
         h.  The geographic proximity of the parents.
         i.  Whether the safety of the child, other children, or the
      other parent will be jeopardized by the awarding of joint custody or
      by unsupervised or unrestricted visitation.
         j.  Whether a history of domestic abuse, as defined in section
      236.2, exists.  In determining whether a history of domestic abuse
      exists, the court's consideration shall include, but is not limited
      to, commencement of an action pursuant to section 236.3, the issuance
      of a protective order against the parent or the issuance of a court
      order or consent agreement pursuant to section 236.5, the issuance of
      an emergency order pursuant to section 236.6, the holding of a parent
      in contempt pursuant to section 664A.7, the response of a peace
      officer to the scene of alleged domestic abuse or the arrest of a
      parent following response to a report of alleged domestic abuse, or a
      conviction for domestic abuse assault pursuant to section 708.2A.
         4.  Subsection 3 shall not apply when parents agree to joint
      custody.
         5. a.  If joint legal custody is awarded to both parents, the
      court may award joint physical care to both joint custodial parents
      upon the request of either parent.  Prior to ruling on the request
      for the award of joint physical care, the court may require the
      parents to submit, either individually or jointly, a proposed joint
      physical care parenting plan.  A proposed joint physical care
      parenting plan shall address how the parents will make decisions
      affecting the child, how the parents will provide a home for the
      child, how the child's time will be divided between the parents and
      how each parent will facilitate the child's time with the other
      parent, arrangements in addition to court-ordered child support for
      the child's expenses, how the parents will resolve major changes or
      disagreements affecting the child including changes that arise due to
      the child's age and developmental needs, and any other issues the
      court may require.  If the court denies the request for joint
      physical care, the determination shall be accompanied by specific
      findings of fact and conclusions of law that the awarding of joint
      physical care is not in the best interest of the child.
         b.  If joint physical care is not awarded under paragraph
      "a", and only one joint custodial parent is awarded physical
      care, the parent responsible for providing physical care shall
      support the other parent's relationship with the child.  Physical
      care awarded to one parent does not affect the other parent's rights
      and responsibilities as a joint legal custodian of the child.  Rights
      and responsibilities as joint legal custodian of the child include,
      but are not limited to, equal participation in decisions affecting
      the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular
      activities, and religious instruction.
         6.  If the parties have more than one minor child, and the court
      awards each party the physical custody of one or more of the
      children, upon application by either party, and if it is reasonable
      and in the best interest of the children, the court shall include a
      provision in the custody order directing the parties to allow
      visitation between the children in each party's custody.
         7.  When a parent awarded legal custody or physical care of a
      child cannot act as custodian or caretaker because the parent has
      died or has been judicially adjudged incompetent, the court shall
      award legal custody including physical care of the child to the
      surviving parent unless the court finds that such an award is not in
      the child's best interest.
         8.  If an application for modification of a decree or a petition
      for modification of an order is filed, based upon differences between
      the parents regarding the custody arrangement established under the
      decree or order, unless the court determines that a history of
      domestic abuse exists as specified in subsection 3, paragraph
      "j", or unless the court determines that direct physical harm or
      significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a parent
      is likely to result, the court may require the parents to participate
      in mediation to attempt to resolve the differences between the
      parents.
         9.  All orders relating to custody of a child are subject to
      chapter 598B.  
         Section History: Early Form
         [82 Acts, ch 1250, § 2] 
         Section History: Recent Form
         84 Acts, ch 1088, § 2, 3, 4, 5; 85 Acts, ch 67, § 57, 58; 86 Acts,
      ch 1179, § 5, 6; 95 Acts, ch 182, § 22--24; 95 Acts, ch 183, § 2; 97
      Acts, ch 175, §199, 200; 99 Acts, ch 115, §1; 2004 Acts, ch 1169, §1;
      2005 Acts, ch 69, §51--53; 2006 Acts, ch 1101, §4
         Referred to in § 598.7, 598.21C, 598.41A, 598.41B, 600B.40,
      600B.41A

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