What is standard visitation?

The parties can establish any schedule for each parent’s periods of possession of the children that fits their needs and those of the children. In fact, the court encourages the parents to arrange periods of possession by agreement as much as possible and to stay flexible to adjust to circumstances. However, the Final Decree of Divorce must include a visitation schedule that will control if the parties cannot agree in the future. Ideally parties will agree on a written schedule to be placed in their Decree. But if they don’t agree on a custom schedule the judge must order one, which typically is the “Standard Possession Order.”

If the parties live within 100 miles of each other, this standard schedule allows for possession by the parent with whom the children do not primarily reside on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month from 6:00 p.m. (or the time school lets out) on Friday until 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday (or when school resumes the following Monday); Thursdays during the school year each week from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (or from the time school lets out until the time school resumes on the following day).; alternating Thanksgiving and Spring Break holidays; either the first or second part of the Christmas break depending on the year, using noon on December 28 as the exchange time, and thirty days during the summer break. If this parent lives farther than 100 miles away, the weekend and weekday periods may be modified to include either the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends or one weekend per month at the election of the person receiving the visitation.  The mid-week visitation is omitted and he or she will have visitation given every Spring Break and for 42 days of the school summer break.

Occasionally, one parent believes that the other’s time with the children should be reduced to less than the standard possession order either because the children are very young or because one parent doesn’t trust the other one to take proper care of the children. Such restrictions might, for example, mean no overnight periods of possession, not taking the children out of the country, or supervised possession. However, if this restriction is not agreed to by both parents, the court can order it only if it finds that such limitation is necessary for the safety of the children and/or in their best interests. It is not uncommon for the court to restrict overnight possession or lengthy summer periods for infants or very young children. The standard possession schedule described above applies only to children three years old or older.