“No-Fault” Divorce: Iowa has what is known as a “no-fault” divorce law. This means that neither party is required to prove that the other party was “at fault” or caused the marriage breakup. Instead of proving fault, a person must simply show there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship, the legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed, and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.
Custody: Child custody can be divided into two categories – legal custody and physical custody. Rights and responsibilities of legal custody include, but are not limited to, decision making affecting the child’s legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities and religious instruction. Joint legal custody is common and means that neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to the other parent. While joint legal custody is common, it does not require joint physical custody. Physical custody or physical care means the right and responsibility to maintain a home for the minor child and provide for the child’s routine care. Physical custody may be given to either parent, subject to the visitation rights of the other. In the alternative, joint physical care can be awarded and in which case neither parent has physical rights superior to that of the other parent. In determining custody, the Court looks at what is in the “best interests of the child.” In doing so, the Court also tries to assure maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents.
Visitation: Visitation rights will, in most instances, be granted to the non-custodial parent. Visitation between a non-custodial parent and a child typically involves visitation during the week, on weekends, holidays, birthdays, and school/summer vacations.
Child Support: New child support guidelines were adopted by the Iowa Supreme Court effective July 1, 2009. The new guidelines are based upon a pure income shares model of child support. Either parent can be ordered to pay child support and typically a parent’s child support obligation continues until the child for whom support is being provided, (1) reaches 19 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first; (2) marries; (3) dies; or (4) otherwise becomes emancipated and self-supporting.