Senate File 11 - IntroducedA Bill ForAn Act 1relating to the awarding of joint custody and joint
2physical care.
3BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:
1   Section 1.  Section 598.7, subsection 1, Code 2019, is
2amended to read as follows:
   31.  The district court may, on its own motion or on the
4motion of any party, order the parties to participate in
5mediation in any dissolution of marriage action or other
6domestic relations action. Mediation performed under this
7section shall comply with the provisions of chapter 679C.
8The provisions of this section shall not apply if the action
9involves a child support or medical support obligation
10enforced by the child support recovery unit. The provisions
11of this section shall not apply to actions which involve elder
12abuse pursuant to chapter 235F or domestic abuse pursuant
13to chapter 236. The provisions of this section shall not
14affect a judicial district’s or court’s authority to order
15settlement conferences pursuant to rules of civil procedure.
16The court shall, on application of a party, grant a waiver
17from any court-ordered mediation under this section if the
18party demonstrates that a history of domestic abuse exists as
19specified in section 598.41, subsection 3, paragraph “j” “i”.
20   Sec. 2.  Section 598.41, subsection 1, paragraphs a, c, and
21d, Code 2019, are amended to read as follows:
   22a.  The court may provide for joint legal custody of the
23child by the parties. The court, insofar as is reasonable and
24in the best interest of the child, shall order the custody
25award, including liberal visitation rights where appropriate,
26which will assure the child the opportunity for the maximum
27continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents
28after the parents have separated or dissolved the marriage,
29and which will encourage parents to share the rights and
30responsibilities of raising the child unless direct physical
31harm or significant emotional harm to the child, other
32children, or a parent is likely to result from such contact
33with one parent.
   34c.  The court shall consider the denial by one parent of
35the child’s opportunity for maximum continuing contact with
-1-1the other parent, without just cause, a significant factor in
2determining the proper custody arrangement. Just cause may
3include a determination by the court pursuant to subsection
43, paragraph “j” “i”, that a history of domestic abuse exists
5between the parents.
   6d.  If a history of domestic abuse exists as determined by
7a court pursuant to subsection 3, paragraph “j” “i”, and if
8a parent who is a victim of such domestic abuse relocates or
9is absent from the home based upon the fear of or actual acts
10or threats of domestic abuse perpetrated by the other parent,
11the court shall not consider the relocation or absence of that
12parent as a factor against that parent in the awarding of
13custody or visitation.
14   Sec. 3.  Section 598.41, subsection 2, paragraphs c and d,
15Code 2019, are amended to read as follows:
   16c.  A finding by the court that a history of domestic abuse
17exists, as specified in subsection 3, paragraph “j” “i”, which
18is not rebutted, shall outweigh consideration of any other
19factor specified in subsection 3 in the determination of the
20awarding of custody under this subsection.
   21d.  Before ruling upon the joint custody petition in these
22cases, unless the court determines that a history of domestic
23abuse exists as specified in subsection 3, paragraph “j” “i”,
24or unless the court determines that direct physical harm or
25significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a
26parent is likely to result, the court may require the parties
27to participate in custody mediation to determine whether joint
28custody is in the best interest of the child. The court may
29require the child’s participation in the mediation insofar as
30the court determines the child’s participation is advisable.
31   Sec. 4.  Section 598.41, subsection 3, Code 2019, is amended
32to read as follows:
   333.  In considering what custody arrangement under subsection
342 is in the best interest of the minor child, the court shall
35consider the following factors:
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   1a.  Whether each parent would be a suitable custodian for the
2child.
   3b.  Whether the psychological and emotional needs and
4development of the child will suffer due to lack of active
5contact with and attention from both parents.
   6c.  Whether the parents can communicate with each other
7regarding the child’s needs.
   8d.  Whether both parents have actively cared for the child
9before and since the separation.
   10e.  Whether each parent can support the other parent’s
11relationship with the child.
   12f.  Whether the custody arrangement is in accord with the
13child’s wishes or whether the child has strong opposition,
14taking into consideration the child’s age and maturity.
   15g.  Whether one or both the parents agree or are opposed to
16joint custody.
   17h.    g.  The geographic proximity of the parents.
   18i.    h.  Whether the safety of the child, other children, or
19the other parent will be jeopardized by the awarding of joint
20custody or by unsupervised or unrestricted visitation.
   21j.    i.  Whether a history of domestic abuse, as defined in
22section 236.2, exists. In determining whether a history of
23domestic abuse exists, the court’s consideration shall include
24but is not limited to commencement of an action pursuant to
25section 236.3, the issuance of a protective order against the
26parent or the issuance of a court order or consent agreement
27pursuant to section 236.5, the issuance of an emergency order
28pursuant to section 236.6, the holding of a parent in contempt
29pursuant to section 664A.7, the response of a peace officer to
30the scene of alleged domestic abuse or the arrest of a parent
31following response to a report of alleged domestic abuse, or
32a conviction for domestic abuse assault pursuant to section
33708.2A.
   34k.    j.  Whether a parent has allowed a person custody or
35control of, or unsupervised access to a child after knowing
-3-1the person is required to register or is on the sex offender
2registry as a sex offender under chapter 692A.
3   Sec. 5.  Section 598.41, subsection 5, paragraph a, Code
42019, is amended to read as follows:
   5a.  If The awarding of joint legal custody is awarded to both
6parents, the court may award creates a rebuttable presumption
7in favor of the awarding of
joint physical care to both joint
8custodial parents upon the request of either parent. Prior to
9ruling on the request for the award of joint physical care,
10the
. The court may shall require the parents to submit,
11either individually or jointly, a proposed joint physical care
12parenting plan. A proposed joint physical care parenting plan
13shall address how the parents will make decisions affecting the
14child, how the parents will provide a home for the child, how
15the child’s time will be divided between the parents and how
16each parent will facilitate the child’s time with the other
17parent, arrangements in addition to court-ordered child support
18for the child’s expenses, how the parents will resolve major
19changes or disagreements affecting the child including changes
20that arise due to the child’s age and developmental needs,
21and any other issues the court may require. If the court
22denies the request for does not award joint physical care,
23the determination shall be accompanied by specific findings
24of fact and conclusions of law
 court shall cite clear and
25convincing evidence
that the awarding of joint physical care
26is unreasonable and not in the best interest of the child, to
27the extent that the joint physical care relationship between
28the child and each parent should not be equal
A finding by the
29court that a history of child abuse or neglect exists relative
30to the child is sufficient to rebut the presumption in favor of
31the awarding of joint physical care.

32   Sec. 6.  Section 598.41, subsection 8, Code 2019, is amended
33to read as follows:
   348.  If an application for modification of a decree or
35a petition for modification of an order is filed, based
-4-1upon differences between the parents regarding the custody
2arrangement established under the decree or order, unless the
3court determines that a history of domestic abuse exists as
4specified in subsection 3, paragraph “j” “i”, or unless the
5court determines that direct physical harm or significant
6emotional harm to the child, other children, or a parent
7is likely to result, the court may require the parents to
8participate in mediation to attempt to resolve the differences
9between the parents.
10EXPLANATION
11The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
12the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
   13This bill relates to the awarding of custody of a child.
   14The bill amends the factors upon which the court determines
15the custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the
16child by eliminating the factor of whether one or both of the
17parents agree or are opposed to joint custody.
   18The bill establishes a rebuttable presumption in favor of
19the awarding of joint physical care if the court awards joint
20legal custody to both parents, and requires the parents to
21submit a joint physical care parenting plan. If the court does
22not award joint physical care, the bill requires the court to
23cite clear and convincing evidence that the awarding of joint
24physical care is unreasonable and not in the best interest
25of the child, to the extent that the joint physical care
26relationship between the child and each parent should not be
27equal. A finding by the court that a history of child abuse or
28neglect exists relative to the child is sufficient to rebut the
29presumption in favor of the awarding of joint physical care.
   30The bill makes conforming changes in the Code due to the
31elimination of the factor of whether one or both of the parents
32agree or are opposed to joint custody relative to determining
33the best interest of the child.
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