One of the most repetitive calls a divorce lawyer receives is the call about summer visitation. In most cases, non-custodial parents have expanded visitation in the summer, usually four weeks taken in two separate two week intervals. However, rarely does a non-custodial parent also receive his/her regular weekday or weekend visitation during the school summer break. In other words, summer visitation (like most holiday visitation periods) supersedes any regular weekday or weekend visitation.
Due to the recent shortening of school summer break, more and more Divorce Decrees are allowing the non-custodial parent to exercise visitation on a week-on-week-off basis during the school summer break. This provides the non-custodial parent approximately the same amount of summer visitation, but does so in way that prevents the custodial parent from having to go two weeks without seeing his/her children.
The Final Decree should state with specificity whether or not the non-custodial parent shall receive his/her expanded summer time visitation in addition to his/her regular visitation. The reason being, Courts want to avoid the non-custodial parent stacking his/her four weeks (or every other week visitation) with the regular visitation, thereby essentially having the minor children the entirety of the school summer break.
Regardless of whether your Final Decree provides for an expanded summer visitation period, or a week-on-week-off summer visitation, you must read the language carefully before you start making plans that include your regular weekday or weekend visitation, or else you may find yourself in a contempt situation before you know it.
Rachel A. King
Vella & King
Attorneys at Law
3000 Crescent Avenue
Birmingham, Alabama 35209