Is there a standard visitation schedule?

A common question from many divorcing parents is whether there is a standard visitation schedule. The short answer is no. But, let's work backwards and start with the language of this question before we dive deeper.

Courts do not refer to time with either parent as "visitation" any longer. Instead, it is now referred to as "parenting time". This change reflects the presumption of the Court that it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to have both parents actively involved in parenting the child(ren) whenever possible. As a result, when possible it is actually preferable that the parents equally share parenting time. What does this tell you? Aside from splitting parenting time evenly between the parents, the determination of custody and parenting time will be determined in one of two ways.

The first, of course, is if the parents are able to come up with an agreement. This agreement is not one that is based on any preconceived or standard schedule of parenting time. Instead, it should be one that the parents agree will provide for both parenting time and routine and stability for the children based on their own family dynamics, such as work schedules, school schedules, and family routines.

The second is allowing the Judge that is assigned to your case to hear and determine the custodial arrangement. This determination would be made at the conclusion of a trial and will be made based on the testimony and evidence produced by each parent. This evidence and testimony can include, among many things, who the primary caretaker of the child(ren) is, schedules of the child(ren) and the parents, and each parent's ability to care for the child(ren). It should also be noted that the court takes into consideration the wishes of the child(ren), however, this is not determinative. The court will determine what weight to give to the child(ren)'s wishes depending on their age and maturity. At the conclusion of the trial, the Court will issue an order determining all aspects of custody, including legal and physical custody and a parenting time schedule for each parent. This will be a schedule that, like it or not, both parents will be ordered to follow.

Which method is used to determine custody is completely up to you and the other parent. However, you should make sure that you have an attorney that can assist you in both negotiations and trial preparation and representation.

LOURDES ROSARIO, ESQ. is a divorce attorney in Syracuse, New York. For more information or a free consultation, call Rosario Law Firm today at 315-362-2639 or contact us at

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