Iowa Child Custody Attorney
The people most affected by a child custody dispute are your children, especially if the custody determination occurs during divorce proceedings. For this reason, it takes a special kind of lawyer to walk the tightrope of protecting the interests of his client and his client’s children at the same time. My name is Jonathan D. Schmidt, and that is exactly what I do.

The first step I will take in your child custody case is to sit down and listen while you explain to me your concerns about child custody and the surrounding issues. I will then craft an individualized strategy that is responsive both to legal realities and to your individual concerns. I can help you with the following issues, among others:

  • Legal custody
  • Physical care (where the child resides)
  • Visitation
  • Modification of a child custody order
  • Paternity actions

How Child Custody Works in Iowa

Iowa courts have a strong preference for allowing the child continuing access to both parents, and for allowing both parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child raising. Although things go much more smoothly if the parents agree to custody arrangements, the court can deviate from these principles if there is a reason to do so (if one parent is an alcoholic, for example, or has committed domestic abuse).

The court will consider many personal issues when determining custody arrangements, and it will then issue a custody order. If one parent later comes to believe that the other parent has violated the custody order, he or she can file a court action against the offending parent. If the defendant parent is found to have violated the order, the court can issue sanctions that might include jail time.


“Both my children are special needs, and I don’t have a huge bank account, but going through my divorce, Jonathan was always mindful of how to best serve my children’s needs. He fought for them and helped me to be able to continue caring for them as they need. I will always be grateful for that. I hope to never need a lawyer again, but if I do, I won’t hesitate to call him.”

Jennifer Lynn Fagle
May 31, 2017

Some of My Practice Areas

I practice in all sub-specialties of family law, including:

  • Divorce
  • Parental rights
  • Visitation rights
  • Child support
  • Domestic violence
  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Property division
  • Spousal support (alimony)
  • Paternity
  • Adoption

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does custody work for a child born out of wedlock?

Originally, sole custody of the child goes to the mother, because there is no biological doubt about the identity of the mother. The father can request DNA testing, and once he is confirmed as the father, he can request visitation and/or custody of the child. He may also be required to pay child support.

What is the difference between legal custody and physical care?

Legal custody is the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religious training, medical care and other issues. One parent may have sole custody, which is rare, or both parents may share joint custody. Physical care is the child’s actual living arrangements. Physical care may be awarded primarily to one parent or shared by both parents.

What is the guiding legal principle in child custody decisions?

Theoretically, the guiding principle is the “best interests of the child.” This principle is the guidepost for the court to make such a determination.

What if my spouse and I cannot agree on custody arrangements?

If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody arrangements, you will be required to submit to mediation in which a third party will assist you in trying to reach an agreement. If mediation fails, litigation in court might be the only alternative. The court must approve any custody arrangement between the two parents, based on the “best interests of the child” standard.

Make the Right Choice

Who you choose to represent you can make all the difference in how your case turns out. In the legal profession, the prominent lawyer ratings agencies employ sophisticated metrics, including the attorney’s reputation among his peers, to rate his or her quality of service. I am happy to report that my own reputation is beyond dispute:

  • In 2017, I was honored as one of only 2.5 percent of Iowa lawyers to be designated a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers.
  • My Martindale-Hubbell designation is “Distinguished”.
  • I am rated 10/10 (“Superb”) by the Avvo legal rating service.

If you live or work in the Cedar Rapids area (or anywhere in Eastern Iowa), or if your custody case is being heard here, contact me online or call my office at (319) 423-3031, so that we can schedule an initial evaluation of your case.