When you divorce, you and your spouse can agree to a custody arrangement that works best for both of you and that is in the best interests of your child, and the court typically accepts such arrangements. However, if you can’t agree, a South Carolina judge is likely to order a variation of your county’s standard visitation schedule.
South Carolina does not have a statewide standard visitation schedule. Instead, the schedules may vary slightly between counties, and an individual judge may have a schedule he prefers to use in cases that come before him. Judges can also tweak standard schedules to accommodate a parent’s work schedule. For example, if a noncustodial parent often works weekend nights, the judge may give him two consecutive weeknights rather than weekend overnights.
Most forms of standard visitation apply to parents who live near each other and have typical Monday through Friday daytime work schedules. Generally, standard schedules provide visitation every other weekend for the noncustodial parent. The schedule should provide a definition of “weekend,” such as Fridays after school to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. If this schedule does not work for a particular parent’s schedule, the court may create a different schedule or define terms like “weekend” differently. Typically, a standard visitation schedule also identifies the transportation arrangements for the child to get from one parent’s house to the other.
Visitation schedules also address holidays and special occasions, such as birthdays. For example, the standard visitation schedule may provide alternating holidays for each parent, with holidays beginning at 6:00 p.m. the day before the holiday. Christmas visitation may end midday on Christmas day to allow both parents to have time with the child. Typically, a standard visitation schedule allows the child to be with his mother on Mother’s Day and his father on Father’s Day every year. If other holidays are important to the parents or child for personal or religious reasons, the parents may ask the court to address those holidays. For example, Jewish parents may want special arrangements for Hanukkah.
Typically, a standard visitation schedule divides the child’s summer vacation between the parents, perhaps splitting it in half or giving the noncustodial parent four weeks during the child’s vacation. Your judge’s standard visitation schedule may not address each parent’s right to take the child away on a vacation, so you may need to bring this up to the judge if you want your visitation schedule to restrict the child’s travel. For example, if you don’t want your child taken out of the state without your consent, the judge may need to add such language to your visitation schedule.