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Once parents file for divorce in Iowa, there can be conflicts as to the decisions affecting their child’s life. There may also be conflict on the matter of where the child resides and how much time the child will spend with each parent. Because "legal custody" only really affects the previously discussed decision-making authority, it is vital to speak with your lawyer about which parent will have "physical care" and how much "visitation" will likely be awarded under the particular facts of your case. Oftentimes, these terms can be confused by the divorcing parent who seeks physical care of the child. It is important to understand the difference between these concepts and your divorce attorney should be able to explain them to you in a way that is easily understandable. Each of these issues must be addressed separately by your family law attorney.
Both parents should have access to medical records and have authority to make emergency medical decisions.
The children’s recreational activities should be included in your parenting plan, regardless of who has custody and/or physical care.
Equal access for both parents to school records, teachers, and activities.
Which parent will be responsible for expenses related to school and activities.
Medical insurance for the children.
A visitation schedule describing in detail the time the children will spend with the non-custodial parent.
How and where the children will be dropped off, and notification of any changes regarding times and places.
For what period of time the children will stay with the non-custodial parent over summer vacations.
Holiday Visitation Schedule (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, and birthdays).
How long-distance travel will be paid for and handled if one parent lives more than a few miles away.
How information regarding the children will be shared between the parents, including provisions for communication if there are issues related to domestic abuse or domestic violence.
Your parenting plan should include restrictions on the use of intoxicants in the presence of the children, a prohibition on all illegal drug usage, as well as not involving the children in inappropriate situations.
The plan should address shielding the children from disagreements between the parents.
Inclusion of the child support amounts and payment schedule in your parenting plan.
Provisions for registering with the State of Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit.
Provisions for delinquent child support should be included in your parenting plan.
In the context of a divorce or dissolution of marriage, "child custody" will usually refer to who has legal decision-making authority regarding your child. Typically this comes into play in major life issues such as choice of religion, education, healthcare, and participation in extra curricular activities. In two-parent, intact families, parents will often share decision-making authority. The decision making process will usually reflect mutual input from both parents. Other families may chose to let one parent take the lead when it comes to these decisions. Custody can be either "joint" - meaning shared between the parents, or; "sole" - meaning given to one parent to the exclusion of the other. The issue of where the child lives and how much time the child will spend with each parent are referred to in terms like "physical care" and "visitation".
Factors the district court looks at:
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The length of the marriage.
The age and current physical health of each party.
The level of education of each party.
The earning potential of the party seeking support.
The probability that the party seeking maintenance will be able to become self-supporting.
The ability of the party seeking support to continue the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
The provisions of the property settlement.
Tax issues presented in the case.
Whether there was a prenuptial agreement.
Any other factor the Court may determine is relevant to decide the issue.
While it may not seem important when your case begins, having a detailed parenting plan can save headaches in the future if there are disputes. A detailed parenting plan will allow both parties to feel secure about how their children are being raised and help relive some anxiety related to the "new normal" after divorce. You should discuss the issues related to your parenting plan with your lawyer.