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Iowa Divorce Laws Continued

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CHILD CUSTODY:

Iowa considers awarding joint legal custody in most cases, unless there is evidence of domestic abuse. Physical custody may be awarded to either parent. 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. In considering what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the minor child, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • Whether each parent would be a suitable custodian for the child.
  • 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.
  • Whether the parents can communicate with each other regarding the child's needs.
  • Whether both parents have actively cared for the child before and since the separation.
  • Whether each parent can support the other parent's relationship with the child.
  • 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.
  • Whether one or both the parents agree or are opposed to joint custody.
  • The geographic proximity of the parents.
  • 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.
  • Whether a history of domestic abuse exists.

Joint physical care may be in the best interest of the child, but joint legal custody does not require joint physical care. When the court determines such action would be in the best interest of the child and would preserve the relationship between each parent and the child, joint physical care may be awarded to both joint custodial parents or physical care may be awarded to one joint custodial parent. [Based on Iowa Code: Section 598.41]

CHILD SUPPORT:

Upon every judgment of annulment, dissolution, or separate maintenance, the court may order either parent or both parents to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for supporting a child. In establishing the amount of support, consideration shall be given to the responsibility of both parents to support and provide for the welfare of the minor child and of a child's need, whenever practicable, for a close relationship with both parents.

All orders or judgments shall direct the payment of those sums to the clerk of the district court or the collection services center for the use of the person for whom the payments have been awarded. An income withholding order or notice of the order for income withholding shall be entered under the terms and conditions of chapter 252D.

Child support may be modified when there is a substantial change in circumstances. In determining whether there is a substantial change in circumstances, the court shall consider the following:

  • Changes in the employment, earning capacity, income or resources of a party.
  • Receipt by a party of an inheritance, pension or other gift.
  • Changes in the medical expenses of a party.
  • Changes in the number or needs of dependents of a party.
  • Changes in the physical, mental, or emotional health of a party.
  • Changes in the residence of a party.
  • Remarriage of a party.
  • Possible support of a party by another person.
  • Changes in the physical, emotional or educational needs of a child whose support is governed by the order.
  • Contempt by a party of existing orders of court.
  • Other factors the court determines to be relevant in an individual case.

[Based on Iowa Code: Sections 598.21 and 598.22]

PREMARITAL AGREEMENTS:

A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both prospective spouses. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage. Both parties to the agreement shall execute all documents necessary to enforce the agreement. A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the person against whom enforcement is sought proves any of the following:

  • The person did not execute the agreement voluntarily.
  • The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed.
  • Before the execution of the agreement the person was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other spouse; and the person did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other spouse.

If a marriage is determined to be void, an agreement that would otherwise have been a premarital agreement is enforceable only to the extent necessary to avoid an inequitable result. [Based on Iowa Code: Sections 596.4, 596.8, and 596.10]

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