In the state of Iowa, child custody may be arranged in different ways. There are two types of custody, referred to as legal custody and physical care.
Legal custody determines the decision-making power of each parent regarding the child's health care, education, extracurricular activities, religious upbringing, and more. Physical care, also known as physical custody, is the obligation to maintain a home for the child and provide everyday care.
One parent solely or both parents jointly can be awarded legal custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and liabilities concerning essential matters of the upbringing of the child.
Joint physical care may also be given to the parents if they have joint legal custody. This does not mean that the child must have two homes at the same time, only that no parent has superior physical care rights (parenting time, maintaining a home, etc.) in comparison to the other party.
In all child custody cases, before making a final decision, Iowa courts consider many essential factors, including the ability of each parent to take care of the child and educate him/her, reasonable needs of the child, emotional connections and relationships between the child and each parent, the ability of parents to communicate with each other and solve controversial issues in the process of raising a child, each parent's ability to ensure the safety of the child, any history of domestic violence in the family, and more.
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