from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K.
father appeals from the custody determination in a petition
to establish paternity, custody, visitation, and support.
Patrick H. Payton of Patrick H. Payton & Assoc., P.C.,
Des Moines, for appellant.
B. Frank, and Jessica Belman, Law Student Attorney of Drake
Legal Clinic, Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
2016, Tobi Bailey filed a petition against Jordynn Rinard
(n/k/a Titus) to establish paternity, custody, visitation,
and support for a then-unborn child. The petition averred
Rinard told Bailey he was the father of the child. The
petition further averred Rinard texted to Bailey that she
intended to give the child up for adoption upon birth. Bailey
disagreed with this decision. The child, A.B., was born in
September 2016. Rinard did not attempt to give up the child
for adoption. The matter came on for trial, and the district
court established paternity of the child in Bailey, awarded
the not-married parents joint legal custody of the child, and
awarded Rinard physical care of the child with Bailey to have
limited visitation. On appeal, Bailey requests the parties be
awarded joint physical care of the child or he be awarded
physical care of the child.
review of equitable proceedings is de novo. See Iowa
R. App. P. 6.907; Wilker v. Wilker, 630 N.W.2d 590,
594 (Iowa 2001). We review the entire record and decide anew
the factual and legal issues preserved and presented for
review. See In re Marriage of Williams, 589 N.W.2d
759, 761 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998). Although our review is de
novo, we afford deference to the district court for
institutional and pragmatic reasons. See Hensch v.
Mysak, N.W.2d,, 2017 WL 4050671, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App.
2017). In exercising our review, "[p]rior cases are of
little precedential value, except to provide a framework for
analysis, and we must ultimately tailor our decision to the
unique facts and circumstances before us." In re
Marriage of Kleist, 538 N.W.2d 273, 276 (Iowa 1995)
(citing In re Marriage of Will, 489 N.W.2d 394, 397
an action to establish paternity, custody, and care of a
minor child between unmarried persons filed pursuant to Iowa
Code chapter 600B (2016). Our analysis with respect to who
should have physical care of the child is the same whether
the parents are married or unmarried. See Iowa Code
§ 600B.40 (providing the statutory criteria set forth in
section 598.41, for dissolutions of marriage, shall apply the
chapter 600B proceedings); Draeger v. Barrick, No.
15-1442, 2016 WL 1697083, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 27, 2016)
(citing Lambert v. Everist, 418 N.W.2d 40, 42 (Iowa
1988)). Our guiding consideration is the best interest of the
child. See In re Marriage of Hoffman, 867 N.W.2d 26,
32 (Iowa 2015).
first address whether joint physical care, or shared physical
care, of the child is appropriate under the circumstances.
"Although Iowa Code section 598.41(3) does not directly
apply to physical care decisions, we have held that the
factors listed here as well as other facts and circumstances
are relevant in determining whether joint physical care is in
the best interest of the child." In re Marriage of
Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 696 (Iowa 2007). Hansen
set forth four primary considerations: (1) approximation,
viz., the historical caregiving relationship between the
parties; (2) the level of communication and respect between
the parents; (3) the level of conflict between the parents;
and (4) whether the parents are in general agreement on the
approach to daily matters. Id. at 696- 670.
care does not appear to be a viable option under the
circumstances presented. The district court found shared
physical care was inappropriate because (1) the parents have
difficulty communicating with each other, (2) the parents
reside in different counties, and (3) Rinard has been the
primary caregiver and a change would subject A.B.'s life
to instability. On appeal, Rinard strongly argues shared care
is inappropriate. She argues the parents "do not respect
each other" and have critical differences with respect
to parenting and lifestyles. She rejects Bailey's
contention that the communication between the parties has
improved. Instead, she contends there is no indication the
parties will overcome their disagreements. She thus concludes
shared physical care "is wholly inadequate." On de
novo review, we agree, and we see no reason to discuss the
factors at great length.
joint physical care is not appropriate, "the court must
choose one parent to be the primary caretaker, awarding the
other parent visitation rights." In re Marriage of
Hynick, 727 N.W.2d 575, 579 (Iowa 2007). We are guided
by the best interest of the child. See Hoffman, 867
N.W.2d at 32. "The critical issue is determining which
parent will do a better job raising the child; gender is
irrelevant and neither parent should have a greater burden
than the other in attempting to gain custody in an original
custody proceeding." In re Marriage of Decker;
666 N.W.2d 175, 177 (Iowa Ct. App. 2003). Iowa long ago
abandoned the inference that the best interests of young
children are served if custody is awarded to their mother
instead of their father. See In re Marriage of
Bowen, 219 N.W.2d 683, 688 (Iowa 1974).
factors relevant to the physical care determination are set
forth in Iowa Code section 598.41(3) in addition to those
developed over time in our caselaw. See In re Marriage of
Winter, 223 N.W.2d 165, 166-67 (Iowa 1974) (setting
forth and discussing the applicable factors). Relevant
considerations include: (1) the characteristics of the child;
(2) the needs of the child; (3) the characteristics of each
parent; (4) the capacity of each parent to provide for the
needs of the child; (5) the relationship between the child
and each parent; (6) the relationship between the child and
any siblings; (7) the effect on the child of disrupting the
existing custodial status; (8) the nature of the proposed
environments; (9) the preference of the child; (10) any
recommendations by the child's attorney or independent
investigator; (11) available alternatives; and (12) any other
relevant matters. Id. We consider the relevant
consider the characteristics and needs of the child, neither
parent is favored over the other. A.B was born in September
2016. At the time of trial, he was seven months old. Rinard
reported the child does have sensitive skin and possible
allergies to strong fragrances. Otherwise, he was healthy and
developing appropriately for his age. A.B. has the ...