What if parents cannot agree on what the order says regarding visitation (I am confused about how visitation works)?

The court order is your fall back schedule when you and the other parent don’t agree. The courts encourage parents to cooperate and be flexible. Parents who agree can set up any parenting plan/visitation schedule they want. Children’s schedules change as they move from pre-school or one grade to the next. Children benefit when parents create plans that fit their family’s needs. When you and the other parent cannot agree, the court order is the fall back plan you both must follow. If you need help coming to an agreement, read about mediation and mediation alternatives here. If you want to change the order through court, you can file a motion to modify.

If you are trying to follow the court order, check it to see if you have a standard possession order (or SPO). If you don’t have a copy, contact the district clerk’s office in the county where you went to court – probably the county where your child lived at the time the order was signed — and ask them for a copy. There may be a charge for a certified copy.

Look at the “Possession and Access Order” section of your court order. If the noncustodial parent is given the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends (beginning on Friday and ending on Sunday); a weeknight visit once a week during the school term; a period of extended summer visitation; and shared holidays; then you probably have an SPO. The My Sticker Calendar highlights the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends in gold. Parents are encouraged to go through the calendar with their children and use the stickers to personalize time spent with each parent. Each parent’s calendar should match to keep everyone on time.

SPO’s may vary a little bit. Some parents tell child support staff they want to select the option to start their weekend visitation when school ends on Thursday, while other parents may start their weekend parenting time at 6 p.m. on Friday. Read your order before you leave the office and check to see if your requests were included in it.

If you don’t have an SPO or don’t understand your order, ask an attorney to explain the order.