“Custody” or “legal custody” means the rights and responsibilities parents have towards their child. The court can instead give both parents "shared care," which is also called "joint physical care." See Iowa Code section 598.1(3). If the court denies the request, the court has to say why joint physical care is not in the best interest of the child. For more information about A2J Author please visit www.a2jauthor.org. For example, even if the non-custodial parent has defaulted on child support payments, this is not a basis for the custodial parent to deny visitation. It is hard to say which factors are most important to the court. Law enforcement will not usually get involved in custody or visitation disputes between parents unless; This is true whether parents are married or unmarried. In Iowa, if a couple (married or unmarried) has children in the family under the age of eighteen, the courts will play a role in making decisions related to child custody. The parent the child lives with is often called the custodial parent. Similar to joint custody, neither parent has physical care rights superior to the other parent. The court cannot automatically award joint custody if there has been a history of domestic abuse. The interest and ability of each parent to provide for all of the needs of the child. Telling someone that the child is his son or daughter. A court may think it will be better for the child to have one parent making the decisions. See Iowa Code section 598.1(5). The law assumes joint custody is not best in these cases. "Ayla" avatar © 2008 Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law and Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction. The Court may, however, look to ensure that the custodial parent is not inconvenienced by the missed/late visits by imposing conditions for notice. See Iowa Code section 598.41(2)(a). If awarding custody to one parent would separate siblings. The cost of the mediation is the responsibility of the parties. The court may decide each case differently in deciding where the child or children should live. The court also has alternative measures to try to gain the party’s compliance with an order. The other parent is often called the noncustodial parent. Rights and responsibilities of legal custody include making decisions about the child's legal status, medical care, education, safety, extracurricular activities, religious instruction, and other major life decisions. http://iowalegalaidfoundation.org/clientstories/. The court must say that there is clear and convincing evidence that joint custody is unreasonable. This is the same in married and unmarried custody cases. For help in collecting support, contact the Child Support Recovery Unit. If the court awards joint custody to both parents, the court may award joint physical care upon the request of either parent. Who has custody when a child is born to an unmarried mother? The importance the court gives this fact depends on how old and mature the child is. The mother usually has custody of her child if she is not married when the child is born. Joint custody means the legal responsibility of a minor child is shared equally between the parents, and neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to those of the other parent. The court can give one parent "primary physical care." Joint custody means the legal responsibility of a minor child is shared equally between the parents, and neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to those of the other parent. What if one parent has concerns about what might happen while the other parent has visitation and there is a court order setting up visitation? What if domestic abuse has been involved in the situation? You may want to contact an attorney to help you with all or some of the divorce process. The court may also allow the parties to have “joint physical care.”  Under this arrangement, both parties share equal and regular care for the child. A parent should not refuse visitation because the other parent has not paid child support. It is only natural that we want to “do” something to take away their pain, and help them cope with parental rejection. See Iowa Code section 598.23. Refusing visitation isn't a way to collect support. Yes. If either party requests joint custody, the court must consider granting joint custody. Most of the time, the bad acts of a non-custodial parent do not give a custodial parent a legal basis for denying the parent his or her visitation rights. If you do not understand this information or if you need legal advice you should see an attorney. The court can decide to award custody to the other parent if the reason for refusing visitation is not a good reason. Some custodial parents may seek to modify a visitation order based upon a non-custodial parent’s failure to exercise defined parenting time. See Iowa Code section 598.7. What if a non-custodial parent fails to exercise his or her designated parenting time with the minor child(ren)? What if someone calls the police during a custody or visitation dispute? You must file electronically unless you get permission from the court to file in paper. Clerks of court and court staff cannot give you legal advice. "History of domestic abuse" can mean any of the following: The police have been called about domestic abuse, An arrest or conviction for domestic assault. Joint custody does not necessarily mean that the child must spend equal time with or live with both parents. The court considers many things including: If there is a custody order in another state. Recommendation of an attorney representing the child.. Any other options available for physical care. This information is not intended as legal advice. If there are no special facts for joint custody, sole custody will be awarded. A court can look at one parent's refusal to allow visitation in deciding who should get custody. This means that both parents can have roughly equal time with their child. Refusing to allow reasonable visitation can cause problems. The relationship between each parent and the child. Even if you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce and custody matters, the court must still review and approve those terms. Facts about the child such as the age, maturity, mental and physical health. The custodial parent is responsible for the well-being of the child. A party must apply to the court for a modification of an order. A court may award joint or sole legal custody. Sole legal custody is granted if a court determines that it would be better for just one parent to make the decisions for the child. What does a court consider in awarding sole custody? Iowa law requires that the court must consider the best interest of the child and order a custody arrangement that will give the child the chance for maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents after the parents have separated and dissolved the marriage, and which will encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child unless physical harm or significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a parent is likely to occur.