In years past, visitation was the term Florida law used to describe the time spent with the parent who was not awarded custody.
Since 2008, there is no “visitation” in Florida law. The new law instead calls it “parenting time” which is both a clearer definition of what visitation really is. Additionally, “parenting time” doesn’t have the strong implication that the child does not live with the other parent.
The parenting time is determined by the parties entering into a parenting agreement whereby the child’s scheduled is laid out in great detail.
The parenting agreement will be entered when there is a divorce or parenting action pending in court. If the child lives in Naples, Florida, those actions should be filed at the Collier County courthouse.
The parenting time schedule, in my experience, focuses on who will be the primary parent. This is the parent who lives in the school district the children attend. The children, therefore, spend most of their time at that parent’s house. The other parent is then granted, usually at a minimum, every other weekend and after school Wednesday up to a reasonable bedtime.
The parties can reach any kind of parenting schedule they agree to so long as it’s approved by the courts.
Parenting schedules can be every other weekend, every other week, Wednesday through Saturday afternoon, but my personal favorite is the 5-2-2-5 schedule. 5-2-2-5 gives one parent 5 days and then the other parent 2 days and so on. This schedule gives parents lots of time on the weekends and during the week but without an especially long stretch. It’s not simple but it works for so many people.
The parenting schedule will also include a holiday schedule which will be considered first before the regular week-to-week schedule. Holidays are usually distributed on an even-odd system. For example, Dad gets Christmas on Even Years and New Years Day on Odd years. I, personally, propose a holiday schedule that adequately distributes the holidays in such a way where the parents get an equal number of holidays of equal importance (If you get Christmas one year, you won’t get Thanksgiving).
The parenting schedule will also allow for bigger periods of time for both parents during the children’s summer vacation. For some parents, this might just be a whole week of time exclusively with the children. For other parents, it might be six weeks. Summer visitation really depends on the age of the children and distance between the parties (out of town parents always get long summer parenting time).
The parenting schedule will also refer to where the children may go, out of the state or out of the country, and with whose permission.
No matter who the children are with per the parenting schedule, the children must continue to attend their scheduled extracurricular activities and appointments. It will be the responsibility of the parent exercising parenting time to take them to those activities and appointments whether they scheduled them or agreed with them or not.
Old judgments will often refer to “frequent and liberal visitation” which simply meant “the parents will work out the schedule day to day.” This really doesn’t apply anymore under the new law which requires detailed parenting time within a parenting agreement. But, if the parents are engaging in open and direct communication with each other the parents may actually be able to have a casual agreement as to parenting time that mimics the “frequent and liberal visitation” orders from the days of old.
Visitation is means time with your kids. Time you can never get back. Talk to a lawyer soon. You won’t get this time back.