OFTEN, CHILD CUSTODY IS DECIDED AS PART OF DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS, BUT THERE ARE A NUMBER OF REASONS WHY THIS MAY NOT BE THE CASE./
Child Custody Attorneys of Sioux City
If you are separating from your partner, you are already going through a difficult time. With or without divorce proceedings, deciding child custody can be a painful and hard-fought process. Here at Hall & Wingert, we understand what a challenge this time can be, and we will get you through it.
One of the most common reasons for a custody case outside of divorce is that the child’s parents were never married, and so there was no divorce when they separated. Custody disputes can also come about after a divorce has been finalized.
In the past, the courts have favored awarding the child’s mother custody in these situations. But recently the importance of fathers in the lives of their children has become more widely recognized. As a result, it has become quite rare for either parent to be given sole legal custody.
There are two types of custody that should be distinguished: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody has to do with making decisions for the child. These decisions include but are not limited to education, medical care, legal status, activities, and religious instruction. Physical custody has to do with the right and responsibility to maintain a home and provide routine care for the child.
As a general rule, the state of Iowa favors joint legal custody.
There are several reasons why the court may decide to award sole legal custody. The guiding principle of the court in these matters is always the best interests of the child. Some of the reasons why a parent may be awarded sole custody include a history of mental illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, or immoral behavior on the part of the other parent. In addition, there are also cases in which joint legal custody simply will not work for the parents.
Once legal custody has been decided, the court will have to decide on physical placement for the children.
Physical placement means deciding which of the parents’ homes the child will live in most of the time while he or she attends school. The parent the child spends most of the time with is called the “custodial parent,” while the other parent is called the “non-custodial” parent.
There are many factors that contribute to deciding on physical placement. As we stated before, the main concern of the court in these cases is the best interests of the child. A few of the factors that can bear on the decision include the relationships between the parent and the child, the child’s relationship with his or her siblings (if any), the parents’ home environment and schedule, and the child’s own wishes (depending on his or her maturity).
A detailed custodial placement schedule is usually set up, outlining when the child falls under the custody of one parent or the other.
As with legal custody, the court may grant joint care. Joint physical care is an arrangement where both parents share equal care for the child on a regular basis. This may or may not be an exact 50/50 arrangement, but if the parents can work well together and live fairly close together it may be the court’s decision.
If both parents agree to a change in the custody arrangements, the court will generally approve the change. With a substantial change in circumstances, you may file a petition to change the court’s custody arrangements in the case of a disagreement.
Whether you are in the process of separating from a partner or seeking to change the current custody arrangement, Hall & Wingert can offer sympathetic counsel. We can help you adjust to your new situation, or we can help you change the situation to something more palatable.