Child custody can be a part of a divorce or a separate action between two parents who are not married to each other. Iowa law defines joint legal custody as an award of custody of a minor child to both parents under which both parents have rights and responsibilities for the child which neither parent has rights superior to those of the other parent. Iowa law presumes joint legal custody, but that presumption is rebuttable. If the presumption is rebutted, the Court can award sole legal custody to one parent in appropriate cases.
Physical care means the rights and responsibilities to maintain the principal home of the minor child and provide for routine care of the child. The Court can award physical care to one parent or to both parents jointly. There is no presumption in Iowa in favor of physical care to one parent or joint physical care.