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Iowa Child Custody Laws

Parents must come to an agreement on child custody when they separate. These arrangements include how they will make major decisions regarding their child moving forward (referred to as "legal custody") and how they will share time with the child (referred to as "parenting time," "timesharing," or "physical custody," depending on the state). If parents are unable to come to an agreement, courts will decide the best course of action based on state child custody laws.


Custody of minor children is generally determined by state child custody laws. While these statutes can vary depending on where you live, all states (except Massachusetts) have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), so that each state's custody statutes are similar and recognize the same rights and responsibilities.

This article provides a brief overview of child custody laws in the state of Iowa.

Child Custody Statutes in Iowa

You can find additional details about Iowa child custody laws in the chart below. See FindLaw's extensive Child Custody section for more articles and resources.

Code Section

§ 598.41 et seq. of the Iowa Code Custody of Children

Year Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, § 598.41(1)(a)

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, § 600(C)(1)

Child's Own Wishes Considered?


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Iowa Custody Hearings

There are some cases where the parents are able to agree to a custody arrangement on their own, and if the arrangement is in the child's best interests a court will normally accept such an agreement. If the parents cannot agree, however, a custody hearing in court may determine any contested custody issues.

During these hearings, the main concern in creating a custody arrangement will be the best interests of the child. Iowa courts are allowed to consider any factor that might be relevant to a child's best interests, and generally place more influence on the factors that affect the child's safety and well-being. Many of these best-interest factors will focus on the child, like his or her relationship with any siblings and the need for consistency and continuity in his or her life. Other factors may focus on the parents, like which parent is more likely to take care of the child's daily physical, emotional, developmental, and educational needs.

Get Legal Help with Child Custody

Child custody matters are difficult, both emotionally and legally. You can find additional articles and resources in FindLaw's section on Child Custody. You can also consult with an Iowa family law attorney if you would like legal advice regarding a child custody issue.

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