When a divorce happens, the custody of the children is one of the most important decisions made by the court. The court can grant primary physical care to one parent, where that parent creates the “primary” home for the child and the other parent has visitation. The court can also grant joint physical care of the minor children to both parents, where the children reside equally on a shared basis with both parents. To change the custody arrangement after the divorce is finalized, the parent wishing to change the custody of the children must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. “Substantial” is the key word. A substantial change in circumstances does not usually occur if someone merely gets married or gets a different job. And previously the courts found that merely disagreeing with one another on parenting will not result in a substantial change of circumstances to warrant a change in custody. However, recently, the Iowa Supreme Court has found that Iowa courts have modified custody when “shared custody provisions . . . incorporated into the decree have not evolved as envisioned by either of the parties or the court” or when the parents simply “cannot cooperate or communicate in dealing with their children.” Although communication alone may not create a substantial change in circumstances, the severity of the communication issues may rise to the level needed for the change to occur. It is important to contact an attorney and discuss what behavior/circumstances rise to the level of a substantial change in circumstances before you file for a modification of your Decree.
For more information on family law related issues, please contact Shannon Simpson at Simpson Legal Group, LLC today at (712) 256-9899.