Alabama Standard Visitation (Shelby County)

I thought it would be interesting to post the standard visitation schedule we currently use in Shelby County, Alabama. Obviously visitation specifics can be negotiated and tweaked, but this is a good starting point for reference.

Alabama Standard Visitation Schedule

  A. MID-WEEK AND WEEKEND TIMESHARING: From 5:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. on Wednesday evening of each week, and from 5:00 P.M. on Friday until 5:00 P.M. on Sunday every other weekend. These timesharing schedules shall be superseded by the December Holiday, Thanksgiving and Spring Break schedules set forth below and shall be modified during the Summer Vacation Break each year to accommodate any special vacation plans made by either parent.

          1) Notice: If the parents are residing within the same geographic area,
then the secondary residential parent shall give notice (verbal or written) at
least twenty-four (24) hours in advance only if he/she does not intend to
exercise midweek or weekend timesharing rights with the child.

If the parents are not residing within the same geographic area, the secondary
residential parent shall give notice (verbal or written) at least seven (7) days in
advance if he/she does intend to have the child reside with him/her for a scheduled
midweek visit or weekend.

The custodial parent shall provide the noncustodial parent notice at least 24
hours in advance if weekend timesharing is not going to be possible with the child
because of the illness of the child or due to other extraordinary, unforeseen

If timesharing is canceled due to illness of the child or other extraordinary,
unforeseen circumstances, the parent missing the timesharing shall have the right to
compensatory time with the child within 30 days.

          2) “Friday” and “Monday” holidays: Regular weekend timesharing shall
begin at 6:00 P.M. on Thursday if that Friday is a public school or legal holiday and
shall extend until 6:00 P.M. on Monday if that Monday is a public school or legal

          3) Homework/readiness of children: The primary residential parent shall
insure that the children have adequate and proper clothing, and the secondary
residential parent shall insure that the furnished clothing is returned. The secondary
residential parent shall insure that the children complete all assigned homework during
midweek and weekend timesharing and shall have the children bathed and ready for
bed if they are being returned to their primary residence after 7:00 P.M.

     B. DECEMBER HOLIDAYS: For approximately one week during the December holiday period each year, beginning at 5:00 P.M. on the day that school recesses for the December holiday period and ending at 12:00 noon on December 26th in odd-numbered years, and beginning at 12:00 noon on December 26th and ending at 6:00 P.M. on the day before school resumes in even-numbered years. The actual length of this timesharing period may vary each year depending upon the child’s school holiday calendar and when Christmas Day actually occurs.

1) Notice [preferably in writing] of intent to exercise December Holiday
timesharing shall be given no later than December 1st each year.

C. THANKSGIVING HOLIDAYS: >From 6:00 P.M. on the day that school recesses for the Thanksgiving holidays until 6:00 P.M. on the following Sunday in even-numbered years.

1) Notice [preferably in writing] of intent to exercise Thanksgiving Holiday
timesharing shall be given by November 1st of each appropriate year.

D. SUMMER VACATION BREAK: For the first half of the children’s summer vacation break (including the Fourth of July holiday) in even-numbered years, and the last half of the children’s summer vacation break in odd-numbered years. For purposes of this Agreement, the summer vacation break is defined to begin at 6:00 P.M. on the date that school recesses for the summer and to end seven (7) days before school reconvenes for the following fall term.

1) Notice in writing of intent to exercise summer timesharing shall be given
by May 1st of each year.

2) Reciprocal midweek and weekend timesharing during summer 
The primary residential parent shall have the same weekend and midweek
timesharing rights as the secondary residential parent enjoys during the rest of the

3) Planned Vacations: Midweek and weekend timesharing during the
Summer Vacation Break shall be modified whenever either parent has specific
vacation plans for the children or the children have special activities planned, e.g.
camp. The parent missing regularly scheduled timesharing due to vacation plans shall
have the right to make-up the time within 45 days.

4) Transportation: The noncustodial parent shall be responsible for
transporting the children back and forth to the custodial parent’s home at his/her
expense for reciprocal midweek and weekend timesharing.

5) Summer school attendance: Each parent has the obligation to ensure
that the child attends required remedial summer school necessary for promotion to the
next grade. If the secondary residential parent resides outside the child’s geographic
area, he/she shall have the option at his/her expense to enroll the child in an
equivalent summer school session meeting the necessary requirements in the
secondary residential parent’s area so as not to defeat the secondary residential
parent’s ability to share time with the child during the summer.

E. SPRING BREAK: From 6:00 P.M. on the day that school recesses for the Spring Break holiday until 6:00 P.M. on the day before school resumes, in even-numbered years.

1) Notice [preferably in writing] of intent to exercise Spring Break
timesharing shall be given 30 days in advance each applicable year.


A. MOTHER’S DAY, FATHER’S DAY, & PARENTS’S BIRTHDAYS: The children shall spend Father’s Day and the father’s birthday with their father, and Mother’s Day and the mother’s birthday with their mother, from 9:00 A.M. until 6:00 P.M. on the day of the event. These arrangements shall supersede any other regularly-scheduled timesharing periods.

1) Notice: If the parents are residing within the same geographic area, the
noncustodial parent shall give notice (verbal or written) at least twenty-four (24)
hours in advance only if he/she does not intend to exercise this timesharing.

If the parents are not residing within the same geographic area, the
noncustodial parent shall give notice (verbal or written) at least seven (7) days in
advance if he/she does intend to exercise this timesharing.

B. CHILD’S BIRTHDAYS: In even-numbered years, the child shall celebrate with the primary residential parent from 5:00 P.M. the evening before until 4:00 P.M. on the child’s birthday, and the child shall celebrate with the secondary residential parent from 4:00 P.M. on the child’s birthday until 5:00 P.M. the following day. In odd-numbered years, this schedule shall be reversed. This arrangement will supersede any other regularly-scheduled timesharing arrangements.

1) Notice (verbal or written) of intent to exercise this timesharing shall be
given 7 days prior to the child’s birthday.

C. OTHER TIMES: The children shall be entitled to share time with the secondary residential parent at all other times agreed upon by the parents. If the parties are not residing within the same geographic area and the secondary residential parent has an opportunity to be in the locality of the children’s primary physical residence, he/she shall have the right to share time with the children upon one (1) week’s advance notice to the primary residential parent.


A. WAITING: Absent telephonic communication of extenuating circumstances, the child and the custodial parent have no duty to await the noncustodial parent for more than thirty (30) minutes of the scheduled timesharing period. A parent who is late for weekend timesharing forfeits timesharing for that weekend. A parent who is late at the beginning of a regularly-scheduled timesharing period other than a weekend forfeits the time until the next day.

B. TRANSPORTATION: The secondary residential parent shall be responsible for all transportation or transportation expenses associated with timesharing, except that the parties shall equally share the responsibility and cost of transportation for the child to travel to and from the secondary residential parent’s residence for December Holiday and summer timesharing each year.

If the parents are unable to agree, the secondary residential parent shall be responsible for transportation at the beginning of the timesharing period, and the primary residential parent shall be responsible for transportation at the end of the timesharing period.

Until age 11, no child shall be required to travel on any public carrier (e.g. bus, train, or airplane) unaccompanied by a responsible adult (including pre-arranged airline personnel) without the other parent’s express consent.

Approved child safety seats or seat belts when allowed by age or weight must be used at all times when transporting the child by vehicle or airplane.

C. BACKUP CARE: Assuming the parents reside in the same geographic area, each parent shall be given the opportunity and shall have the right to have the child with him/her when the child would otherwise be left alone or with a babysitter, daycare provider or facility, or other third party for any period of time exceeding four (4) hours. Both parents are encouraged to offer each other the opportunity to serve as “first choice babysitter” whenever either parent needs childcare for the child.

D. RELIGIOUS, SCHOOL AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: It is in the children’s best interest to participate in religious activities, school programs and regularly-scheduled extracurricular activities appropriate for their ages and talents, such as sports, dance, modeling, and music lessons. When residing within the same geographic area, each parent has the duty to inform the other, and the right to attend, all such activities in which the children are participating. This includes the right to participate in and attend activities with the children at school, including eating lunch with the children.

The children shall have the right to attend Church and/or Sunday School at the Church attended by the custodial parent during the time they are scheduled to be with that parent.

Each parent shall make a good faith effort to deliver the child to scheduled activities on time and in appropriate attire. If not also attending an activity, the parent who delivers a child has the duty to ensure that the child is also picked up. Except for such regularly-scheduled activities, neither parent will make commitments for the child during the time the child is normally scheduled to share time with the other parent without the other parent’s knowledge and consent.

If the parties are not residing in the same geographic area, the noncustodial parent shall have no obligation to see that the child attends any extracurricular activities scheduled by the custodial parent during the regularly-scheduled timesharing periods. [For example, the custodial parent cannot refuse to honor the noncustodial parent’s spring or summer vacation time with the child simply because the child has a baseball game or practice during that time.]

E. NOTIFICATION OF RELOCATION: The primary residential parent shall give the secondary residential parent written notice at least ninety (90) days in advance of any plan to permanently relocate with the children outside of the parties’ geographic area.

F. GRANDPARENT AND RELATIVE CONTACT: It is presumptively in the children’s best interest that they maintain a relationship with the maternal and paternal grandparents and other close family. The parents should allow the children reasonable access and telephonic contact with grandparents and close family.

54 thoughts on “Alabama Standard Visitation (Shelby County)

  1. Nina Reply

    I am trying to make sure I understand the reciprocal midweek / weekend timesharing during the summer months visitation standard.

    Is this saying that the children will stay with the secondary residential parent during the summer months and the primary residential parent will now have the children every other weekend and midweek only. (except vacation week)

    • Brad Reply

      It does say that, but my experience is that this portion of the schedule does not typically apply, and the custodial parent maintains custody with the non-custodial parent having visitation.

      • Nina Reply

        From what I have seen thus far, it truly doesn’t seem like what is best for the children….everything is what is best for the mother (regardless as to what the mother has or has not done) and nothing for the father. The children and the fathers are the ones that suffer. I can say that I now understand why there are so many “dead beat dads”! They get to pay all this child support, medical bills, etc. and they don’t get to see their children that much. This state needs to pass the Father’s Rights Bill. If the ones that write these laws walked in these father’s shoes, then maybe they woiuld understand what it is like not being able to see their children.

        • Stacey Reply

          Who are we to question the judge that took every bit of 5 minutes to decide and give my cheating ex wife. She even admitted it to the judge. Give her custody and me a huge child support payment every month and I just get to see them 4 days a month. It feels like I’m just renting them. And she wants to play games on when I get to see. That’s real fair

  2. Nina Reply

    If the secondary residential parent works at a company where they rotate between day shift and night shift every two weeks, can the 2 midweek visits missed while working during night shift hours be made up during the midweek the parent is on day shift?

  3. Brad Reply

    Probably. It would depend on what you could work out with the custodial party, or if you couldn’t, what the judge approved.

    Someone other than a parent can pick up a child, but they need to be approved by the custodial parent first.

  4. Nina Reply

    Can a teenager refuse to see their parent that is paying child support?

    • Brad Reply

      Not typically. But as they get older, judges will give their preferences more weight.

      • Nina Reply

        We were given a different set of visitation rights from an attorney in Birmingham; it was less detailed and it indicates clearly that the first and third week visitation only, once that 5th week has come around, children aren’t sent. Is this an old set of standards??? This one clearly says every other week.

        • Brad Reply

          Every jurisdiction uses a different set of guidelines. They’re all presumably similar, but each judge or county may use their own schedule.

  5. Nina Reply

    If a mother has moved everything out of the primary residence, then moved herself and children (still not divoreced and without telling the father) with her parents, can the father move into the primary residence and have the children returned to him.

    • Brad Reply

      The father can petition the court for any relief he wants, but it doesn’t mean it will be granted. It would depend on the specific facts of each case.

  6. Victoria Reply

    I have had to pay lawyers to make my ex-husband do what the court order tells him to do. When I file rule NISI he comes back with a petition for more visitation.
    My question is if visitation and child support are totally different issues, why is he allowed to use it in negotiation, but I am not?

    • Brad Reply

      Everything is fair game in negotiation, and if he is in contempt for not following a court order, that’s something your attorney needs to focus on. Child support and visitation are two different things, but everything in a divorce is related to everything else, in a way.

  7. Brad Patterson Reply

    Doesn’t this so-called “Standard Visitation” schedule represent a violation of equal protection of the law? The US Supreme Court has affirmed that a parent’s right “to direct the care, custody, and control” is a fundamental liberty interest safeguarded under the US Constitution. If the parents cannot mutually agree upon a custody arrangement, why is it not a violation of equal protection of the law when the Court’s “Standard Visitation” order is so lopsided in favor of one parent over the other? If both parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the child, should not the Court protect one parent’s right to the child as it does the other by ordering equal visitation and custody as the “standard” arrangement?

    Upon execution of the lopsided “Standard Visitation” schedule, does it not create two classes of people (custodial parents and non-custodial parents)? Is not the non-custodial parent more often than not, the father (making it a gender class)? Does this not create a separate set of rules or pattern of practices and policies which unfairly favors one parent (custodial) over the other (non-custodial)? For example, if a non-custodial parent refuses to allow the custodial parent access to the child, the police can charge the non-custodial parent with a crime and jail the noncustodial parent while facilitating the return of the child to the custodial parent. If a custodial parent refuses to allow the noncustodial parent access to the child, the police will not intervene and the noncustodial parent is forced to attempt access to the child through the civil courts.

    Is “Standard Visitation” so lopsided because the State receives incentive payments from the federal government based on the amount of child support the State is able to enforce against noncustodial parents (42 USC 658a – “Incentive Payments to the State” part of the Social Security Title IV-D program). Since this program provides roughly two dollars for every dollar of child support collected by the State, does this program not provide financial incentive for the State to order such lopsided custody arrangements, thereby increasing the amount of child support it collects, and the incentive payment it receives?

    Therefore, does this not show motive and method for a violation of equal protection of the laws by creating two classes of citizens and treating them differently based upon the financial interests of the State while violating the fundamental liberty interests of one class?

    • Brad Reply

      I’m skeptical that states have a sinister motive behind implementation of standard visitation and the designation of custodial/non-custodial parents. I accept that’s it’s feasible, I just don’t know if I go so far as to claim that their purpose is purely financial.

      More likely, judges hearing these cases have prioritized stability for children, and “equal” or shared custodial parenting time does not always afford this. Often, parents live cities, even states, apart, and there has to be a designation of a custodial parent and “home state” for school registration, tax purposes, and the like. I don’t agree with every aspect of this system, and many times it DOES favor one parent over the other, but what alternatives exist?

  8. Vanessa Reply

    Does my ex_husband get my daughter an additional 30 days to his regularly weeekend visits in the summer,or is that included in his summer visit?

    • Brad Reply

      It will depend on what the divorce papers say. Let me know if you want to schedule a free consultation.

  9. Nina Reply

    My son was handed a copy of the Shelby County Circuit Court Child Visitation Guidelines. These 17 rules are on 2 sheets of paper, no details whatsoever; obviously it looks nothing like yours. Where did your’s come from and is the one that we should go by?

  10. Nina Reply

    Could you please answer as well, Brad. While still in the process of getting a divorce the mother decides not to let the father see his children and there are no signed orders from a judge; can the father file any type of order to see his children.

  11. Bradley Latta Reply

    Go by the rules the Judge gave you; mine are a guideline.

    The father can absolutely file for temporary custody and/or visitation while the divorce is pending.

  12. Nina Reply

    Thank you, Brad. Sorry, I guess I should have included that the guideslines I was describing were given by an attorney, not a judge. That is why I couldn’t understand the differences between your detailed guidelines and the simple 2 liner guideslines received from another attorney. This is all so confusing….

  13. Scott Reply

    Is there a “standard” out of state visitation if the custodial parent and child move?

    • Brad Reply


      There is a standard out of state visitation. Contact my office for more information. (205) 988-5570.

  14. Sam Reply

    Ok I live in shelby county as well as my daughter and her mother. I just wanted to know if I asked the court to have my daughter,who just turned one, every weekend if they would allow it? The mother uses her as a pawn now, saying stuff when she gets upset like “fine you dont get to see her”. I work ft in steel mill m-f 60 hrs week and value what little time I do get with her….i do pay child support too, prob more then what the court will have me pay. I just want her every weekend.

  15. Tara Reply

    So how would fall break work? If it is a week long, would it follow the same break as spring break? What if Fall break is only 2 or 3 days?

    • Brad Reply


      Fall Break is not addressed in all jurisdictions. Until Shelby County adds it to the Standard Visitation list, it would have to be something worked out between the parties and their attorneys.

  16. Tara Reply

    So how would fall break work? If it is a week long, would it follow the same break as spring break? What if Fall break is only 2 or 3 days?

  17. Jackie Reply

    at what age does a child begin overnight visitation with the non custodial parent?

    • Brad Reply


      There is no certain age, it will depend on the facts of the case and the individual child.

  18. Bella Reply

    How can the parenting schedule be omitted? We currently allow our 14 old to choose which days he wants to stay at what home. This has been easier on everyone and he doesnt feel forced. So, how can we omit the parenting schedule when we begin divorce proceedings?
    Please help

    • Brad Reply


      You and your spouse can include that language in your divorce agreement. You do not have to specify a visitation schedule. Let me know if I can help.

  19. Bella Reply

    ok, thank you and I will. Oh, I also have 1 more question. What if I don’t want to include child support guidelines in the divorce. We both have our son’s best interest at heart. This is a noncontested divorce and we both want to keep things respectful of the other.

    • Brad Reply

      You’re probably going to have to include a provision for child support in the agreement. Most judges won’t let you waive it except in limited circumstances.

  20. Iam Reply

    My ex is getting remarried and has asked for my consent to relocate 10 hours away. I’ve tried researching how travel costs will affect my child support, but have only found a few vague references like the court “takes it into consideration”. Currently I cannot afford ANY travel expenses, especially the kind that will require either flight or hotel accomodations. In addition the upcoming furlough will be knocking me down 20% on my income not to mention my beater car won’t make it 10 hours North.

    How does AL normally handle a relocation such as this? Currently we are in the beginning phase of our negotiation about the whole thing (no lawyers involved yet). Talking about one weekend a month, Summer and most holidays. 2 kids. Average round trip plane ticket is $230.

    • Brad Reply

      Without getting into too many details, you need to formally object to the relocation through the court, and get a hearing where you can explain the situation to a judge. My office can help with this if you want to schedule a free consultation. (205) 988-5570.

  21. L Reply

    I have a question about overnight guest in the presence of my children at their Mothers home.
    I am divorced and my children are in the custody of their Mother and she has a man living there that she is not married to (and yes they are sleeping in the same bed). According to our Divorce this is not allowed. Do I have the right to take her to court for Contempt and will the judge in Shelby County up hold this and make him move out until they marry?

    • Brad Reply

      If she is violating language in the divorce decree, that would be the basis for a contempt filing. My office handles these if you want to schedule a free consultation. (205) 988-5570.

  22. Dewayne Reply

    Brad I also have picture of him her in the truck and picture of them together on Christmas Eve.

    • Brad Reply

      I tried to send you an email but it kicked it back. Many factors go into custody determinations, so please contact my office to schedule a more in-depth consultation. (205) 988-5570.

  23. Anonymous Reply

    Father has “no less” than 1st and 3rd weekend of each month. Mother’s time to have children for spring break. Problem: Spring break starts on Friday of the 3rd weekend of the month. Father says, OK then I will have 4th weekend of the month. Her lawyer says, NO! Therefore father only got to see his children for 2 days that month. Is her lawyer right?!!!!

  24. Anonymous Reply

    Contempt filing against the mother for keeping children 3rd weekend in December, which is father’s weekend. Please note: Her attorney told her not to give to father. Judge decides to hear “behind closed doors”. After they meet, judge tell mother that he is not going to put her in jail, but to understand that the visitation schedule means what it says.

    When judge’s ruling is given, he states: Since the words of the Final Judgement of Divorce means what they say, it is ordered that the parties shall strictly comply with the visitation set out therein and any further failure to abide by said order will result in contempt citation for the party violating such order.

    Hmmm, did father win his case??? Kind of hard to tell since it reads…”Parties”

    Also, note that in March, spring break; mother’s attorney told her not to give children to the father the 4th weekend of that month since mother got the children for spring break (his 3rd weekend).

    Also note: No monies for attorney’s fees were addressed. Plus numerous others concerns were not mentioned by father’s attorney. Should father file for an appeal? I was told that you have 42 days to file for an appeal. Any suggestions?

    Is there anyway to determine as to whether or not someone was taking notes behind those closed doors.

  25. Anonymous Reply

    I have a friend who’s daughter has an 8 month old child. The mother and father are not married. The father works for his parents.

    Daughter’s attorney states that there is a “new ruling” concerning visitation in Shelby County. Her attorney said that the father can see the child one day each weekend. For instance, if he sees child on Saturday the next weekend he sees on Sunday.
    Where would you find this new ruling? Or, does this new ruling even exist?

  26. Jamie V Reply

    What if my regularly scheduled weekend visitation falls at the end of my holiday visitation? (meaning that per the divorce papers I am to have my children home on January 3rd but it is also my weekend for visitation)can I keep the children until the 4th which is a sunday I would have had them anyway for my bi weekly visitation.

  27. kmstepmom Reply

    Non-custodial mother refuses to take child to summer sports practices and events once school starts-can we make her pick her up after events (say visitation starts Friday @ 6pm but event is Saturday morning over at 11am)? She is in contempt for nonpayment of child support, has numerous mental issues (bi polar, borderline personality disorder, etc) and is trying to convince child to live with her. Husband (sole custodian) has had nothing but problems with her and there is no co-parenting (she is completely unreasonable). We feel like the court system is not out to help him but rather her. Do we have any recourse? Sorry to have several questions just no idea where to start.

  28. Jackie Bradford Reply

    I am totally appauled at the judicial system in the state of Alabama. My question is, do they understand honesty, integrity, oath. I am and encourage everyone to join “Divorce Corps”, and get a clear understanding of avenues you and your soon to be ex-spouse can entertain before hiring a lawyer who will financially drain you and your family. From your attorney to family courts to the judge, for the sake of your children don’t lose everything you’ve worked for trying to get a divorce, trust me l know. So you will be very confident in Divorce Corps, it is retired lawyers, Judges and court recorders giving testimonials of cases that will give you a change of heart or seeks out their recommendations in what to do before seeking out an attorney to get a divorce. Thank you and God bless

    • Brad J. Latta Post authorReply

      Not all lawyers and/or judges are bad; the system is very flawed but can be navigated through. Call us at (205) 401-1309 and we can get you in to take a look at things.

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