Visitation and the Holidays

Holidays and Visitation

The holiday season is upon us, and this is the time of year when families gather to spend quality time with each other. For divorced or separated couples with kids, the holidays can be especially hard on the children. They are used to spending time with Mom and Dad together, and now they have to go back and forth between the two depending on what the child custody and visitation schedule says.

In Alabama, most child custody arrangements call for the non-custodial parent to be allowed liberal visitation rights. The state recognizes the role of both parents in the lives of their children, so they are inclined to grant frequent visitation in the vast majority of cases. In some rare and extreme cases in which there is a history of abuse, the court may only grant limited supervised visitation.

Holidays and Visitation in Alabama

Visitation for holidays is an area that couples should try to work out on their own. Each family has their own traditions and their own ways of celebrating the holidays,and the holiday visitation schedule should reflect the uniqueness of each individual circumstance.

There are several ways parents may handle visitation during the holidays. Here are some common approaches:

Alternating Holiday Schedules Annually

One popular way parents may choose to divide holiday time with the kids is to rotate holidays in alternate years. One parent could have the children for a certain holiday in even-number years, while the other parent has them in odd-numbered years. In addition, you can rotate major holidays so that each parent has some holiday time each year with the children. For example, during even-numbered years, Parent A could have the children for Thanksgiving weekend while Parent B has them from Christmas Eve through Christmas morning. Other holidays throughout the year could be scheduled in the same manner, and the parents would swap holidays in odd-numbered years.

Assigning Fixed Holidays for Each Parent

Another way to fairly divide the visitation schedule around the holidays is to have the children spend the same holidays with each parent every year. So, in this example, Parent A would have the children for Thanksgiving weekend every year,Parent B would always have the kids for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and other holidays would be divided up accordingly between the parents. This arrangement might work well if the parents want a more simplified schedule and/or the parents have different holidays that they believe are most important.  

Splitting Holiday Time in Half

You may choose to split the holiday time between the parents, so the children spend part of the day (or series of days) with each. For example, one parent could have the children for the night before Thanksgiving and most of Thanksgiving Day, while the other parent takes the kids on Thanksgiving evening and keeps them the rest of the weekend. A similar arrangement could be done with Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. The time-splitting approach works best when the parents live close to each other and can coordinate the schedule so there is not too much traveling involved.

Alabama Standard Visitation Schedules

If parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own regarding visitation,the courts usually have a standard visitation schedule that is followed. The standard schedule varies depending on the county you are in, and judges have discretion to account for various factors; such as the age of the children, the distance between the two parents, whether or not one parent lives out-of-state,and many others. A strict standard visitation schedule is usually only imposed if there is no agreement at all between the parties. More commonly, this schedule is used as a starting point for negotiations, and it is customized as needed based on what is important to the parents and children.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

Holidays and visitation schedules can be a source of dispute during a divorce or parentage case. When working out a schedule that fits your needs and the needs of your children, it is best to have a skilled advocate in your corner arguing forcefully for your rights and interests. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we extensive family law experience, and we work closely with clients to ensure that they receive the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 334-737-3718. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our office in Opelika.

divorce lawyer in Alabama

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Alabama?

You may be hoping for the fastest end possible to your marriage, but many states take a cautionary approach to the notion of a “quick divorce.” It would be a shame to decide based on emotion, only to change your mind after the all the ink has dried and legal matters have been settled.

Alabama is one of the states that would prefer you take your divorce matter more slowly, and they enforce this with a mandatory waiting period. How long a divorce takes in Alabama, however, depends on several factors, chief among them whether you and your spouse can agree on major issues.

Alabama’s Cooling Off Period

Alabama law requires that couples have a cooling off period, also called a waiting period, that lasts for 30 days and begins on the day you file for divorce. Under the most ideal and quickest scenario, you will never have a divorce in Alabama that is concluded in under 30 days. The state has this rule to make sure that you aren’t going to change your mind after you file the legal paperwork to end your marriage.

A Spouse’s Time Limit to Respond

Another time limit to consider is the other spouse’s period to reply to a complaint for divorce. This period is also 30 days, which can overlap with the state’s mandatory cooling off period.

When just one spouse files a complaint for divorce, they are required to “serve” the paperwork on the other spouse. If the divorce is amicable, the other spouse can just sign for the paperwork at the courthouse, which will speed up the process.

Otherwise, there is a slight variation to this time. This process can be a challenge if they have trouble finding the other spouse or if the spouse avoids the service.

Once the other spouse has been successfully served, it is only then that the 30-day clock will begin to run for a response. For example, if it takes two weeks to serve your spouse with the paperwork, you are already six weeks into the divorce before you can ask a judge to sign the final order.

Uncontested Divorces in Alabama

Your divorce could be over with much quicker if it is classified as an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse can agree on the major issues related to asset and debt distribution, custody, child support, and alimony, you can include all those terms in the settlement agreement that you will submit to the family law court.

Your settlement agreement can be submitted while you wait for that 30-day cooling off period to conclude. Once over, the judge will review your paperwork and give it their seal of approval if they consider it to be reasonable. Considering the waiting period and a few other logistics, you could reasonably complete this process within about six to eight weeks.

What is a Contested Divorce?

Contested divorces in Alabama take much longer. If you and your spouse cannot agree on a long list, or even a few, major issues, you will need to go to court and ask them to help with those decisions. As soon as the other spouse files a response to the complaint for divorce, the court will set a trial date. This is often several months out.

According to Alabama law, both parties are also required to participate in mediation or a pre-trial conference before taking a case to trial. Many cases have to be postponed due to the availability of parties or failure to meet other requirements of the court.

After the trial, you will need to wait even longer for the judge to make their final ruling and issue an order. In Alabama, a contested divorce can take anywhere from several months to several years, depending on the issues being litigated.

Speak with a Trusted Alabama Family Law Attorney

Whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, it is vital that you safeguard the rights and financial future of yourself and any dependents. The Alabama family law attorneys at Alsobrook & Jackson, Attorneys at Law can explain your options and provide representation in a divorce, custody, support, or other family law matter.

Contact our Opelika, Alabama office now at 334-737-3718 or online to schedule a free review of your case.