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xavierjd, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 3400
Experience:  20 yrs exp. in divorce, custody, visitation & support .
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After 5+ years, my granddaughter has decided that she wants

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After 5+ years, my granddaughter has decided that she wants to regain custody of her child. The child has thrived under my son's care. He has received no child support. My granddaughter now receives SSI and has married. She says that she now has a home and money to take care of the child. She owes $7783.70 in Child Report Recovery plus six liens. Her mother who kidnapped the child when she was little, and now lives with my granddaughter. My granddaughter can call Mon., Wed., and Friday at 7 p.m. and talk for 15 minutes. The calling time has destroyed what family time they had as my son doesn't get off till 5 p.m. and gets home between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. By the time he gets cleaned up and they hurriedly go out to eat, it's time to be home for the call. My granddaughter has also received Sat. visitation from 10 - noon. Consequently, my great-granddaughter has been unable to come and visit her brothers and missed Saturday bowling for the month of March because it's on Saturday mornings and her mother would not change the visitation to Sunday. I am the great-grandmother and the adopted mother of the child's brothers. My son's attorney seems to be giving way any chance of winning. The mother now wants overnight visitation. Her husband was arrested in July 2012 for domestic violence against my granddaughter, so my great-granddaughter is scared to go there. The charge was dropped by my granddaughter. I have tried to get criminal records on both of them to no avail. I live on a pension and support the three adopted boys of my granddaughter. What can I do?
Thank you for using It will be my pleasure to assist you today.

What do you think that your granddaughter's motives are for trying to regain custody of her daughter?

Is the custody case being heard in Iowa?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I am not sure of my granddaughter's motives. She has had five children -- four boys who have been adopted by relatives and one daughter (the child in question). The children all have different fathers. My granddaughter had an argument with my son's girlfriend (the main caregiver). So, I think my granddaughter is trying to get even with my son. My granddaughter is a smooth talker and has a way of making you believe what she says. I am sure that if my great granddaughter goes to live with her Mom, I'll never hear from her again. My granddaughter hates me for adopting her three boys. When my son got custody of my great granddaughter, my granddaughter made him promise that I wouldn't win custody of my great granddaughter. My great granddaughter is on the fence about going to live with her mother. She knows her mother's background, but doesn't want to make her Mom mad. My granddaughter has a criminal background, but I was told that the court wanted to unite the family. My granddaughter swears she has changed. That's what she said after each child was born and after her brush with the law in Iowa and Illinois. Thanks for your answer.
Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for all of the information. It is very helpful.

I am going to look up a few things and get back with you asap with an answer.

Thanks for your patience.
Hi Rebecca,

An Iowa court will be reluctant to modify a child custody determination unless the court determines:

  • There's a history of domestic violence or abuse, or
  • Direct physical or severe emotional harm will occur to the child, other children, or a parent, if custody is not modified.

In making decisions regarding the child’s physical care, the Court is required to focus on the best interest of the child; the purpose of the physical care order is not to reward or punish either parent. The Court is to consider the statutory factors set forth in Iowa Code Section 598.43(3) as well as the factors identified in In Re Marriage of Winter, 223 N.W.2d 165,166-67 (Iowa 1974):


Factors to be considered in awarding physical care:


1. The characteristics of each child, including age, maturity, mental and physical health;

2. The emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs of the child;

3. The characteristics of each parent, including age, character, stability, mental and physical health;

4. The capacity and interest of each parent to provide for the emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs of the child;

5. The interpersonal relationship between the child and its siblings. [Siblings including half siblings should be kept together absent good and compelling reason to separate them. In re Marriage of Quirk-Edwards, 509 N.W.2d 476,479 (Iowa 1993); See In re Marriage of Smiley, 518 N.W.2d 376, 380 (Iowa 1994) (“Siblings should not be separated from one another without good and compelling reasons.”); Will, 498 N.W.2d at 398 (there is a presumption that siblings should not be separated in the absence of good and compelling reasons).

6. The interpersonal relationship between the child and each parent;

7. The effect on the child of continuing or disrupting an existing custodial status;

8. The nature of each proposed environment, including its stability and wholesomeness;

9. The preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity considering

a. The child’s age and educational level

b. Strength of preference

c. Relationship with family members, and

d. Reasons given for child’s decision.

e. Whether the action is an original custody proceeding or a modification action. In re Marriage of Levsen, 510 N.W.2d 892, 894 (Iowa 1993); In re Marriage of Hunt, 476 N.W.2d 99, 101-02 (Iowa 1991).

10. The report and recommendation of the attorney for the child or other independent investigator;

11. Available alternatives; and

12. Any other relevant matter the evidence in a particular case may disclose. [including factors of continuity, stability, and approximation (In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 700 (Iowa 2007)) and whether one of the parties has without just cause denied the child the opportunity for maximum continuing contact with the other parent (Iowa Code section 598.41(1)(c)).]



Moral misconduct has also been considered a factor, however, it has been weighed most heavily only in those cases where the misconduct was conducted in the presence of the children. See In re Marriage of Grandinetti, 342 N.W.2d 876, 879 (Iowa App. 1983).

The emotional and environmental stability offered by each parent are important considerations. In re Marriage of Williams, 589 N.W.2d 759, 762 (Iowa App. 1998).

The parent awarded physical care is required to support the other parent’s relationship with the child. Hansen at 700; Iowa Code section 598.41(5)(b).

A child should be assured the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents. In re Marriage of Ruden, 509 N.W.2d 494,496 (Iowa App. 1993).

Choice of Child at Age 14

There is a common rumor that upon reaching the age of 14, a child can choose where he/she wants to live. In a modification proceeding, a child’s preference is given less weight than in the initial custody proceeding. Many other factors are also considered.


Based upon your post, it is unlikely that the court will modify the current custody order. However, in Iowa, the Court prefers that the child has contact with both parents. As in your son's case, it sounds like the Court is allowing your granddaughter "baby steps" to allow her to again be a part of your great granddaughter's life.


However, based on your post, it sounds like the court may not be FULLY aware of what is going on with your granddaughter. It is important that your son gets good legal representation.


Finally, you or your son may wish to contact the Iowa State Bar Association's attorney referral service toll free at 1-(NNN) NNN-NNNN


I hope you find this information useful.




My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. If you are satisfied with my answer, please rate it as "excellent" or in another positive manner. That is the only way that I can get credit for answering the question.

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Hi Rebecca,

Thank you so much for the "excellent service" rating! It is greatly appreciated and I am glad that you found the information useful.

If you have future questions, you can specifically request me by name as the expert.

Thanks again,