CHILD VISITATION GUIDELINES

Residency / Circuit
Child Visitation Appendix to Administrative Order 5.20.1

This visitation schedule has been approved by the Judges of the Family Law Division as constituting a reasonable visitation schedule for use in Polk, Highlands and Hardee Counties. Unless otherwise specified, the term "reasonable visitation" contained in a Court order within the Tenth Judicial Circuit shall mean visitation in compliance with the provisions contained herein.

The judges prefer that the parents consult and agree upon visitation schedules because the parents best know their work, other schedules and their child. A visitation schedule agreed upon by both parents is more likely to work to the satisfaction of the parents and the child. The schedule may be useful as a starting point to begin negotiations on visitation. If the parties cannot agree on visitation, their first alternative is to mediate the conflict. Special reasons may exist to alter this visitation schedule such as: age of the child, health, special care needs, etc.

VISITATION IS FOR THE PRIMARY BENEFIT OF THE CHILD.

VISITATION SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED AS A PRIVILEGE TO BE EXERCISED AT THE WHIM OF EITHER PARENT, BUT AS A RESPONSIBILITY WHICH SHOULD BE FULFILLED ABSENT NECESSARY CAUSE. The primary residential parent is expected to provide access to each child at unscheduled times if requested and if to do so would not unreasonably disrupt prior planned activities of the child or the primary residential parent.

GENERAL: The parent with primary custody shall be referred to herein as the primary residential parent, and the other parent shall be referred to as the secondary residential parent.

A. INFANT VISITATION (INFANTS TO 18 MONTHS): Because infants are in particular need of receiving continuity and consistency of care by one primary caretaker and the secondary residential parent needs to establish a meaningful bond with the infant, the following visitation guideline should balance the needs of both parent and infant, regardless of whether that infant has older siblings that enjoy extended visitation with the secondary residential parent.

1. WEEKENDS: The secondary residential parent shall be entitled to alternate weekend visitation. Visitation shall begin Friday at 6:00 p.m. and end Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

2. WEEKDAY VISITATION: The secondary residential parent shall be entitled to visitation two evenings per week from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. These shall be the same two evenings every week and varied only if it conflicts with the holiday or vacation schedule. If the parties cannot agree, weekday visitation shall be on Monday and Wednesday.

3. HOLIDAYS: In odd-numbered years, the secondary residential parent shall be entitled to spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day with the minor child; and the primary residential parent shall be entitled to Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas Eve and New Years; in even-numbered years, the schedule shall be reversed. The Holiday schedule shall preempt weekday and weekend visitation schedules. The Court recognizes that this schedule revolves around Christian holidays. If either or both parties celebrate other holidays, then they should be written down, divided and alternated each year.

a. NEW YEARS: Visitation shall begin at 6:00 p.m. New Years Eve (December 31st) and end at 6:00 p.m. on New Years Day (January 1st).

b. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY: Visitation shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the official holiday.

c. EASTER: Visitation shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on the Saturday before Easter Sunday and end at 6:00 p.m. Easter Sunday.

d. MOTHER'S DAY: shall be spent with the mother every year with priority over any other visitation schedule; visitation hours shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

e. MEMORIAL DAY: Visitation shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the official holiday.

f. FATHER'S DAY: shall be spent with the father every year with priority over any other visitation schedule; visitation hours shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

g. JULY FOURTH, and LABOR DAY: Visitation shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the official holiday.

h. THANKSGIVING: Visitation shall begin on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at 6:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. Thanksgiving day.

i. CHRISTMAS EVE: Visitation shall begin at noon on Christmas Eve and end at 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day.

j. CHRISTMAS DAY: Visitation shall begin at 10:00 a.m. on Christmas Day and end at noon on December 26th.

k. MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY shall be spent with the mother every year. If the mother is the secondary residential parent and the mother's birthday is on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, visitation hours shall be from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.. If the mother's birthday is on a Friday or Saturday, visitation shall be from 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. This visitation will not affect holiday visitation.

l. FATHER'S BIRTHDAY shall be spent with the father every year. If the father is the secondary residential parent and the father's birthday is on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, visitation hours shall be from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.. If the father's birthday is on a Friday or Saturday, visitation shall be from 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. This visitation will not affect holiday visitation.

m. CHILD'S BIRTHDAY: The child shall celebrate his or her birthday with the secondary residential parent in odd-numbered years and the primary residential parent in even-numbered years. In years that the child spends his or her birthday with the secondary residential parent, if the child's birthday falls on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, visitation shall be from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.; if the child's birthday falls on a Friday or Saturday, visitation shall be from 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. The parent holding a birthday party for the child may wish to consider inviting the other parent.

n. ANNUAL VISITATION FOR INFANTS (BIRTH TO 18 MONTHS): Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, regular weekend and weekday visitation shall be maintained year around.

B. REGULAR VISITATION (AGE 18 MONTHS AND OLDER)

1. WEEKENDS: The secondary residential parent shall be entitled to alternate weekend visitation. Visitation shall begin Friday at 6:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. It is not the responsibility of the primary residential parent to provide food or shelter for the child during the secondary residential parent's visitation.

2. WEEKDAY VISITATION: The secondary residential parent shall have visitation with the school age child one evening per week from the time school releases until 9:00 p.m. If the child is preschool age, visitation shall be from 3:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. This shall be the same evening each week and varied only if it conflicts with the holiday or vacation schedule. If the parties cannot agree on the weeknight, it shall be Wednesday evening.

3. HOLIDAYS: In odd-numbered years, the secondary residential parent shall spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend, Easter, July 4th Weekend, Thanksgiving and the first half of Christmas vacation with the minor child; and the primary residential parent shall be entitled to spend Spring break vacation, Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend, Halloween, and the second half of Christmas vacation with the minor child. In even-numbered years, the schedule shall be reversed. The Holiday schedule shall preempt weekday and weekend visitation schedules. The Court recognizes that this schedule and the typical school schedule revolves around Christian holidays. If either or both parties celebrate other holidays, then they should be written down, divided and alternated each year.

a. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY WEEKEND: Visitation shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. Monday.

b. EASTER: Easter often falls within the spring vacation period. In the event that it does not, then the secondary residential parent shall spend Easter with the child during odd-numbered years, and the primary residential parent during even-numbered years. If Easter falls within the spring vacation period, then visitation shall be with the parent entitled to spend the spring vacation period with the child. Easter visitation hours shall be from 6:00 p.m. Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. Sunday.

c. MOTHER'S DAY shall be spent with the mother every year. In the event the holiday falls on a weekend that is scheduled to be spent with the other parent, visitation hours shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Mother's Day. This visitation shall not affect vacation visitation.

d. MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Visitation shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. Monday.

e. FATHER'S DAY shall be spent with the father every year. In the event the holiday falls on a weekend that is scheduled to be spent with the other parent, visitation hours shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Father's Day. This visitation shall not affect vacation visitation.

f. JULY FOURTH WEEKEND: Visitation shall begin at 6:00 p.m. July 3rd and end at 9:00 a.m. July 5th . If the holiday falls on a weekend, then visitation shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

g. LABOR DAY WEEKEND: Visitation shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. Monday.

h. HALLOWEEN/OCTOBER 31ST: If the holiday falls on a weekday, visitation shall be from 3:00 p.m. or when school releases until 9:00 p.m.; If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, visitation shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

i. THANKSGIVING: Shall begin on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at 6:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. Sunday.

j. CHRISTMAS VACATION: The first half of the Christmas visitation period shall begin at 6:00 p.m. December 18th and end at 10:30 p.m. December 24th. The second half of the Christmas visitation period shall begin 10:30 p.m. December 24th and end at noon January 1st.

k. MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY shall be spent with the mother every year. If the mother is the secondary residential parent and the mother's birthday is on a weekday, visitation hours shall be from 3:00 p.m. or when school releases until 9:00 p.m.. If the mother's birthday is on a weekend that is scheduled to be spent with the other parent, visitation shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the mother's birthday. This visitation will not affect holiday or vacation visitation.

l. FATHER'S BIRTHDAY shall be spent with the father every year. If the father is the secondary residential parent and the father's birthday is on a weekday, visitation hours shall be from 3:00 p.m. or when school releases until 9:00 p.m.. If the father's birthday is on a weekend that is scheduled to be spent with the other parent, visitation shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the father's birthday. This visitation will not affect holiday or vacation visitation.

m. CHILD'S BIRTHDAY: The child shall celebrate his or her birthday with the secondary residential parent in odd-numbered years and the primary residential parent in even-numbered years. In years that the child spends his or her birthday with the secondary residential parent, if the child's birthday falls on a weekday, visitation shall be from 3:00 p.m. or when school releases until 9:00 p.m.. If the child's birthday falls on a weekend that is scheduled to be with the other parent, visitation shall be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the child's birthday. The parent holding a birthday party for the child may wish to consider inviting the other parent. This visitation shall not affect holiday or vacation visitation.

n. ANNUAL VACATION: Visitation shall be as follows:

i.) CHILDREN AGE 18 MONTHS THROUGH SIX YEARS: Three one week periods during the summer to start no sooner than the first full week of June and to end no later than the last full week of August. In the event that written notification is not given as set forth in section v.) Scheduling Annual Vacation, visitation shall be the second full week of June, the second full week of July and the first full week of August. The one week visitation period shall begin 6:00 p.m. Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. the following Friday.

ii.) CHILDREN AGE SIX THROUGH TWELVE YEARS: Four weeks during the summer to start no sooner than one full week after the last day of school and to end no later than one full week before the first day of school. Visitation may be exercised in one three week period plus a one week period or two two week periods that shall not be consecutive. In the event that written notification is not given as set forth in section v.) Scheduling Annual Vacation, visitation shall be the last two full weeks of June and the last two full weeks of July. Parents shall schedule annual vacation visitation within the confines of the school calendar including year around schooling and summer school if applicable.

iii.) CHILDREN 12 AND OLDER: Six weeks during summer vacation to start no sooner than one full week after the last day of school and to end no later than one full week before the first day of school. Visitation may be exercised in three two week periods or two three week periods that shall not be consecutive. In the event that written notification is not given as set forth in section v.) Scheduling Annual Vacation, visitation shall be the last three full weeks of June and the last two full weeks of July and the first full week of August. Parents shall schedule annual vacation visitation within the confines of the school calendar including year around schooling and summer school if applicable.

iv.) CHILDREN IN DIFFERENT AGE GROUPINGS: If there are two or more children whose ages span different age groupings entitling the children to different visitation periods with the secondary residential parent, then the younger children shall get the benefit of the oldest child's visitation schedule. THIS PROVISION DOES NOT APPLY TO INFANTS (AGE BIRTH TO 18 MONTHS). PARENTS OF INFANTS MUST FOLLOW THE INFANT VISITATION SCHEDULE FOR THE INFANT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT THE INFANT HAS OLDER SIBLINGS.

v.) SCHEDULING ANNUAL VACATION: The secondary residential parent will have first choice of annual vacation visitation and shall designate in writing his or her choice for annual vacation no later than April 15th of each year. Unless specifically prohibited by Court order, either parent may temporarily remove the child from the State of Florida for purpose of annual visitation for no more than 21 continuous days only if the parent traveling with the child provides the other parent with a written general itinerary and contact phone numbers where the child can be contacted during the vacation.

4. CANCELLATION BY SECONDARY RESIDENTIAL PARENT: Twenty-four hours' notice shall be given by the parent entitled to visitation with the child if visitation will not be exercised for the weekday or weekend. A minimum of one week's notice shall be given by the parent entitled to visitation for a holiday, birthday or special occasion if visitation will not be exercised. A minimum of thirty days' notice shall be given in writing by the parent entitled to visitation for Christmas, annual vacation or a period of one week or greater if visitation will not be exercised. The parent seeking cancellation shall arrange and pay for babysitting, child care or other appropriate supervision of the child for the visitation period, to the extent such expense is due to the cancellation. ANY VISITATION CANCELED BY THE SECONDARY RESIDENTIAL PARENT SHALL BE FORFEITED.

5. MEDICATION, ILLNESS, OR ACCIDENT: If medication or physical therapy has been prescribed for the child, then both parents shall maintain without fail all medical prescription dosages and/or medical therapy as may be prescribed for the child. The doctor 's name and phone number shall be shared. In the event of a serious illness or accident happening to the child while in the care of one parent, the other parent shall be notified as soon as practicable but no later than three hours after the incident or diagnosis. ILLNESS OF THE CHILD SHALL NOT PREVENT VISITATION WITH THE CHILD, UNLESS THE CHILD IS HOSPITALIZED.

6. COMMUNICATIONS: Provided that each parent has a telephone located in their home, the child shall be entitled to reasonable telephone communication with both parents. Each parent shall immediately deliver to the child all letters, cards, correspondence, gifts, toys, clothes and other items sent to that child by the other parent. Neither parent shall withhold, return, destroy, give away, sell or otherwise dispose of any such items. If either parent plans a vacation or trip out of town with the child for three days or more, that parent must provide the other parent with a general itinerary, a phone number where the child can be reached and the dates of departure and return.

7. SCHEDULED EVENTS: Both parents shall be entitled and are encouraged to attend and participate in special activities in which the child is engaged, such as school programs, graduation, sports, recitals and other extracurricular activities. In the event that the child has extracurricular activity, then the parent that is caring for the child when the activity is scheduled should assure the child's attendance. The child's wishes shall be taken into account. Each parent shall advise the other parent of extracurricular activities in which the child participates within twenty-four hours of notification of an activity or event. Each parent shall make an effort not to schedule activities for the child during the other parent's time with the child.

8. TRANSPORTATION: The secondary residential parent shall pick up the child for visitation and the primary residential parent shall pick up the child after visitation. A parent's spouse or grandparent may substitute for the parent in transporting the child to and from visitation, any other third party shall be agreed to by both parents.

9. WAITING: A child shall be picked up or delivered within thirty (30) minutes of the scheduled time of exchange. If the secondary residential parent is more than thirty minutes late and creates a hardship as a result, visitation shall be forfeited for that visitation period.

10. ADEQUATE AND CLEAN CLOTHING FOR VISITATION shall be supplied by the primary residential parent and all these clothes shall be returned in the same clean condition by the sec