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In Iowa, a court would have jurisdiction to make determinations regarding your minor child only after you have been living in Iowa with the minor child for six (6) months under the UCCJEA (uniform child custody and jurisdiction enforcement act). Otherwise, you are right about your concern, he could move for the case to be sent back to North Carolina.
However, if you just need a protective order or a restraining order you could file for that in Iowa, but they may not be able to decide custody.
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Well if you are filing taxes and own a home in Iowa then you may have a better grounds for getting jurisdiction in that courthouse.
If you file for a PO in iowa and its granted odds are that the court will maintain jurisdiction in that court since there is an order in place. He cannot sign over jurisdiction but if he doesn't contest it then it would stay in Iowa
Best of luck :)