WHAT VISITATION SCHEDULES DO MOST JUDGES USE?
That’s a loaded question which is exceedingly difficult to answer, but one that comes up quite frequently in meeting with clients. To dispel any myths, there is no such thing as a “standard visitation schedule.” In fact, Florida lawmakers haven’t used the term “visitation” for many years, with “timesharing” being the preferred term.
In Palm Beach County, and in many other counties across the state as well, there are “Model Timesharing Schedules” which were oft-used in years past and which are still utilized quite frequently today. Remember, though, these are not State-approved or Court-approved schedules. Rather, they are just schedules that are so commonly used that they’ve been distilled to written documents and widely circulated.
THREE “MODEL TIMESHARING SCHEDULES” USED IN PALM BEACH COUNTY:
BOTH PARENTS LIVE WITHIN 45 MILES OF ONE ANOTHER.
This is the most commonly used schedule merely because it applies to the highest percentage of circumstances. The basics of this plan are that during the school year one parent spends every other weekend (consisting of Thursday after school through Monday morning) and one overnight each week (Thursday) with the children. During half of the summer, the schedule is reversed, thus giving that parent timesharing consisting of Monday morning through Thursday evening, and every other weekend from Friday evening to Monday morning. Holidays are generally rotated from year to year, or split in half.
BOTH PARENTS LIVE IN THE SAME STATE, BUT MORE THAN 45 MILES APART.
In this schedule, one parent spends every other weekend with the children during the school year, but this time it’s only from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening unless there is a Monday holiday, in which case the time-sharing is extended a day. The thinking is that children need to be back home on Sunday night so they can avoid a long trip to school on Monday morning. During half of the summer, the schedule is also reversed so that the parent who has only had weekend visits during the school year gets to spend Sunday evening to Friday evening every week plus every other weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening. Again, holidays are often rotated from year to year, or split in half.
BOTH PARENTS LIVE IN SEPARATE STATES.
There is only so much you can do when parents live hundreds of miles apart. In this schedule one parent gets one weekend per month with the children during the school year, often matching up with one of the Monday holidays that occur during most months of the school year, thus providing a 3-day weekend. In the summer, though, the parent who had the weekend timesharing would have a block of half of the summer break with no interruptions. Holidays are also generally rotated or split in half except for spring break, which the out-of-state parent has in its entirety every year.
While the above three “Model Timesharing Schedules” fail to cover every possibility, they do include most circumstances.
Be careful about wholesale adopting one of the above schedules as your own, though. Your situation is not a cookie-cutter custody matter and your timesharing schedule shouldn’t be, either. If you’re looking to implement or modify a timesharing schedule, by all means, review one of the “Model Timesharing Schedules” and mine it for all it’s worth for your particular circumstances.