As a Birmingham, AL, divorce lawyer and family law attorney I get many questions from clients regarding all aspects of divorce, separation, child custody and other divorce-related topics. This is a difficult time for all parties in a divorce, but there are some key topics that concern many a spouse and parent affected by legal separation and especially divorce, namely visitation rights.
What is Standard Visitation?
Depending on where you live in Alabama, you may have questions on what is standard visitation for any minor children involved in a divorce. While the custodial parent has little concern in this area, in my experience shows that the non-custodial parent is the one who is almost always anxious about the court's decision regarding visitation.
In theory, most domestic relations and/or juvenile court judges have very wide latitude when it comes to visitation schedules. In fact, the court usually decides on a case-by-case basis what is best for the children. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the visitation schedule for one couple can be very different from that of another.
While there exist visitation guidelines, it is widely understood that most judges settle on their own “standard visitation” schedules, which they place in their orders. Because each judge has rather wide discretion to fashion a special visitation schedule for a particular couple, the parties going through the divorce should be prepared for certain deviations. This is why it is always advisable to retain the services of a qualified divorce and family law attorney.
It is also important to note that even the final order can vary slightly from the basic order. For instance, in one jurisdiction a Wednesday night could maybe be added if the parties ask for it, but the court may not allow much more that that, in spite of any agreements between the two parties. However in an adjoining county, you may well find that a Wednesday night is already part of the standard order.
In the end, divorcing parents will find that cooperation is the best approach when it comes to visitation. This is because the visitation order usually only applies when the parties cannot agree on their own schedule — serving as a minimum allotment of time for the non-custodial parent to get his or her share of visitation. But if you both can agree on your a mutual schedule, then your are free to create and follow that no matter what the judge's order states.