from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Edward A.
father appeals the decree that placed the parties' child
in the physical care of the mother.
H. Lane, Sioux City, for appellant.
B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, P.C.,
West Des Moines, and Jacquelyn Johnson of Vonnahme Law, P.C.,
Sioux City, for appellee.
by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
Jones appeals the court's decree that granted the parties
joint physical care of the parties' five-year-old son
until such time as Manuela (Mandie) Baker relocates to
Louisiana. When Mandie relocates, the court ordered the child
to be in Mandie's physical care subject to Michael's
visitation during the summer and three-day weekends during
the school year. Michael contends the court should have
granted him physical care of the child when Mandie moves to
Louisiana because all of the child's support system is in
Iowa, including the child's half-sibling. Because we
agree with the district court that the child's best
interests favor placing the child in Mandie's physical
care if and when she moves to Louisiana, we affirm the
district court's decision.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
and Mandie are the parents of five-year-old E.J. The parties
never married, but when their romantic relationship ended in
2014, the parties agreed to joint physical care, alternating
the care of E.J. on a weekly basis and agreeing no child
support would be paid by either party. In November 2015,
Mandie filed a petition to establish custody, visitation, and
support because she anticipated relocating to Louisiana for
her employment and wanted to have physical care of E.J. In
response, Michael asked for the joint physical care to
continue and, alternatively, requested physical care of E.J.
if Mandie relocates to Louisiana.
case proceeded to trial in April 2016. The district court
issued its decision in June, concluding in light of
Mandie's proposed relocation,
joint physical care is not physically possible in this case
and therefore is not appropriate. The court finds that
although the parties have successfully shared joint physical
care thus far in the child's life, the primary caregiver
in times of need and in times of crisis for the child has
always been Mandie. Although the court, like Mike, has
concerns that the move to Baton Rouge will disrupt the
child's life, Mandie appears to have taken into
consideration every detail, and the court believes that as
long as the child is with Mandie, the child will be fine.
Children of such tender years are extremely flexible, and the
court has no doubt that Mandie will give the child the
attention needed to adjust to the move to Baton Rouge.
The court awards primary care of the minor child to [Mandie]
subject to visitation with [Michael]. The court awards joint
physical care of the minor child on a week-to-week basis
until [Mandie] moves, at which time, the court awards her
primary physical care of the minor child.
court granted Michael visitation from three days after the
child begins his summer break from school until one week
before school resumes, though Mandie was granted one weekend
per month during June and July. The court also granted
Michael visitation every spring break and every extended
weekend during the school year when E.J. has a Monday or
Friday off. In addition, Michael is allowed to exercise
visitation with E.J. in Louisiana one weekend per month and
two weeks during the school year. The court also ordered
Mandie to pay for the cost of E.J.'s travel that she
schedules for visitation. The court ordered Michael to pay
child support but required Mandie to provide the health
insurance for E.J. since E.J. will be living with her in
asserts on appeal the district court should have granted him
physical care of E.J. in the event Mandie moves to Louisiana
because neither Mandie nor the child has a support system in
Louisiana and ...