The Standard Possession Order includes weekend visits. The standard language is that weekend visits begin on the first, third and fifth Friday of every month. Therefore, you simply look at the calendar and see where the 1st, 3rd and 5th Fridays fall.
This can be confusing to a lot of parents. When there is a fifth Friday in any particular month, the immediately following Friday will always be the first Friday of the following month. This means in that circumstance, visitation happens two weekends in a row. There are not that many months that have a 5th Friday. The primary custodian sometimes feels this is not fair, but it is the law.
The pickup time under a Standard Possession Order is 6:00 p.m. on Friday. However, the person exercising visitation has the right to elect that their visitation to begin at the time the child's school is dismissed if that election is made before entry of the final order and it is reflected in the order. However, under recent changes in the law, the other parent may contest the election as not being in the child's best interest. If the judge makes that finding, then 6:00 p.m. will be the starting and ending times.
The drop off time under a Standard Possession Order is 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday after the pickup date. Again, the person exercising visitation has the right to elect that the visit ends at time school resumes on the Monday following the first, third, or fifth Friday of any given month provided the election is made prior to entry of the final order and the order is in the best interest of the child.
The circumstances are a little different if the parties reside more than 100 miles from each other. The parent exercising their visitation can either choose the weekend visitation periods as set out above or they can choose any one weekend per month beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. However, there must be a 14 days written or telephonic notice of the weekend they have chosen. If the other parent moved more than 100 miles away after the standard decree was entered, this election for a "one weekend per month" period must be made in writing to the parent with primary custody of the child within 90 days after the parties had begun to live more than 100 miles apart.
Sometimes the standard visitation occurs when there is a scheduled school holiday or a federal or state holiday that falls just before or just after the normal visitation period. If so, then the weekend possession will begin at 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday immediately before the Friday holiday or it will end at 6:00 p.m. on the Monday holiday following the Sunday, whichever the case may be.
Sometimes, these visitation periods can be confusing and may even seem unfair. If in doubt, carefully read your decree. A parent may be held in contempt of court for failure to deliver a child when the other parent's visitation period begins. A family law attorney can also help you understand how these visitation periods work and may help modify them if it becomes necessary.