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Child Custody & Visitation Issues for Holidays


Child Custody & Visitation in General

When a court is confronted with the task of determining a child custody arrangement between divorced parents, the law generally requires them to resolve the matter in accordance with the child’s best interests. This standard is widely recognized in jurisdictions throughout the United States, including Iowa.

Under Iowa Code § 598.41, courts must consider the following factors when deciding what type of custody arrangement serves the child’s best interests:

  • Each parent’s suitability as a custodian for their child
  • Whether the child’s emotional needs and development will be adversely affected by the deprivation of contact and attention from both parents
  • The parents’ ability to communicate with each other about the child’s needs
  • Whether the parents have taken an active role regarding the care of the child before separating
  • Each parent’s ability to support the other parent’s relationship with the child
  • The child’s preference, accounting for their age and maturity
  • The parents’ agreement or disagreement regarding joint custody
  • The geographic distance or closeness between the parents
  • The impact that joint custody or unsupervised visitation has on the child’s safety
  • Any history of domestic abuse
  • Whether a parent knowingly allowed a registered sex offender to have custody or access to the child

Custody arrangements may involve either joint physical custody or sole physical custody. Joint physical custody is an arrangement where both parents spend roughly the same amount of time living with their children. Parenting time is, therefore, equally distributed between the parents. For example, a joint custody arrangement can involve a child living with one parent for one week and then living with the other parent the next week.

In contrast, sole physical custody is an arrangement where one parent primarily lives with the child. The other parents might have visitation rights where the can spend time with the child intermittently on certain days. Under a sole custody arrangement, the child’s address is the same as the custodial parent’s address. For example, official mail from schools and government agencies will be directed to the address of the custodial parent. The child might spend time living with the other parent every other weekend and on certain holidays.

Holiday Issues Affecting Child Custody and Visitation

Deciding a custody or visitation schedule for holidays is an important matter for divorcing parents. Children typically have extended breaks from school for Christmas and the New Year, for example. Moreover, those holidays may not always fall on the same day of the week. As a result, a joint custody arrangement alternating parental time based on days of the week might not workout during such holidays.

Parents in a joint custody arrangement may want to consider alternating custody during the holidays by years. For example, one parent could spend Christmas and the New Year with the child on years ending in an even number while the other parent spends Christmas and the New Year with them during years ending in an odd number.

Alternating years could also work for sole custody arrangements with visitation rights. The parents could negotiate for a visitation schedule where one parent spends Christmas and New Year’s with their child every other year.

In either case, parents will benefit substantial from communicating and coordinating with each other regarding the holidays.

When organizing custody or visitation rights regarding holidays, parents should consider:

  • The exact duration for holiday custody or visitation
  • Whether out-of-state travel is permitted
  • A schedule for communication between the other parent and the child during the holidays
  • Communication plans between parents for emergency situations
  • The time and place for custody exchanges

Our Attorneys at Hope Law Firm Are Ready to Advise You

Most people traditionally spend the holidays with their families. That tradition does not have to end because parents decide to get divorced. If you are looking for legal advice regarding child custody and visitation matters as they relate to holidays, you should contact the Hope Law Firm. We have years of legal experience handling disputes involving Iowa family law. We take pride in our ability to deliver effective legal solutions to our clients that factor their individual needs and unique circumstances.

To schedule an initial consultation with one of our skilled lawyers, call us at (515) 305-2772 or contact us online today.