By Henry E. Lagman
In Alabama when a noncustodial parent lives outside the state the domestic or family court judge can provide for out-of-state visitation with the minor children. This usually varies from court to court and judge to judge. This can vary within each County and in some cases with the judges in that County. Most judges however provide what is called “Standard Out-Of-State Visitation” as a guide to the parties. The original divorce judgment from your state will need to be domesticated under the laws and acts of Congress in order to be enforced or otherwise modified. There is a procedure to do this in order that your divorce decree can be enforced or otherwise modified in Alabama. This will make it in Alabama divorce decree and subject to Alabama law.
Knowing your judge and what their policy is is therefore extremely important in anticipating what the disposition of out-of-state visitation will be. Again this will vary depending on what County you seek to file in.
Another factor the Judges are often sensitive to is travel time and expense the non-custodial parent must spend to exercise visitation. Regarding that each Judge is highly individual. Some judges with require the custodial parent to travel half way, other judges will not. Again it is highly dependent on each judge and the facts of the case.
In Jefferson County, Alabama there are three domestic relations judges in the Birmingham division which have different policies regarding out-of-state visitation.
To summarize all of them is difficult but to paint out-of-state visitation with a broad brush usually entails that the non-custodial parent will receive 4 to 6 weeks in the summer at a time to be selected by the noncustodial parent. Each of the judges endorsed the position that the noncustodial parent who is usually out-of-state be given more time with the children when they are in town. This is usually triggered by giving 48 hours notice prior to the visitation and is usually limited to no longer than 48 hours. So out-of-state visitation can vary dramatically with the judge that is hearing the case.
I would ask you to call me directly to find out the visitation schedule for your particular judge as judge’s may retire or not be re-elected to the Bench.
This is an outline of two of the Jefferson County Judges’ approach. You may see that they vary in the details.
The out-of-state parent is usually given the following:
1. A week at Christmas.
2. Thanksgiving in even years from six on Wednesday to six on Sunday.
3. Easter in the even years from 6 PM on Saturday until 6 PM on Easter Sunday.
4. Six weeks during the summer to be selected by the noncustodial parent on written notice.
5. Spring break in the even years determined by the school calendar.
6. Fall break in the odd years by the school calendar.
7. Father’s Day is reserved for the father 4 PM on Saturday to 6 PM on Sunday.
8. Mother’s Day is reserved for the mother 4 PM on Saturday to 6 PM on Sunday.
9. There are some travel restrictions and arrangements which are specific to the children and their ages.
10. Other visitation is encouraged by agreement and at other reasonable times when the noncustodial parent is in town upon 48 hours notice.
11. The custodial parent is under a duty to notify the noncustodial parent regarding illness or accident of the children.
12. Both parties are instructed to maintain propriety, sobriety and prohibited from cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex without benefit of marriage.
13. Each party shall have reasonable telephone access with the minor children.
14. The noncustodial parent’s notify the other party when they are unable to exercise the station at the scheduled time and place.
15. Neither party is scheduled activities for the children which will preclude this session.
16. Both parties shall have access to information regarding the children including but not limited to medical dental and hospital records, school records, report cards and other information concerning the minor children.
Another Standard out-of-state visitation schedule differs but is somewhat similar.
In Family Court, Judge Cousins’ Out of State Visitation is as follows:
OUT OF STATE VISITATION
The Plaintiff/Defendant shall have the right to have (his)(her) minor child(ren)with (him)(her) as follows:
A. Six (6) weeks during each Summer at a time to be selected by-the Plaintiff/Defendant provided, however, that he/she shall have mailed by registered mail a written notice to the Plaintiff/Defendant of the dates of the intended visitation at least thirty days prior- to such visitation.
B. Each Christmas, beginning on December 26 at 9:00 am. and ending New Year’s Day at 3 :00 p.m.
C. Five (5) days of each spring school holiday, (also .known as A.E.A. Spring Break).
D. Any ‘other reasonable times the Plaintiff/Defendant is in the town in which the Minor child(ren) resides and-Plaintiff/Defendant shall give 48 -hours notice and the visitation should be no longer than 48 hours in duration.
E. During any periods of visitation, the said child(ren) may travel by commercial Airliner provided:
1. The Plaintiff/Defendant shall pay all air fares for the transportation of said child(ren).
2. Tue flights shall be either non-stop or direct and no change of planes will be involved until child(ren) reaches the age of fourteen 14 years.
3. All travel arrangements shall be made by the Plaintiff/Defendant.
4. The Plaintiff/Defend.ant shall notify the Plaintiff/Defendant not less ten (10) days of the date· of visitation, of the date) time airline and and flight number of proposed carrier.
5. The Plaintiff/Defendant shall send to the Plaintiff/Defend.ant the round trip airline ticket(s) or shall ensure that.they will be at the air terminal ready for said child(ren) at time of departure.
6. The Plaintiff/Defendant shall be required to deliver the said child(ren) to the nearest commercial airport offering direct flight service to the airport as which the the Plaintiff/Defendant will receive the child, not be in excess of 150 miles from his/her residence. The Plaintiff /Defendant shall also pick up said child(ren) at the termination of the periods of visitation.
7. The Plaintiff/Defendant sh.all ensure that either he/she or the notify the.Plaintiff/Defendant of the arrival of said child as soon as possible after the child/ren) is met by him/her.
8. At the end of the period of visitation, the Plaintiff/Defendant shall notify the-Plaintiff/Defendant of the date, – time, carrier number and flight number of the child/ren)’s return. The Plaintiff/Defendant shall notify the Plaintiff/Defendant (24) hours prior to the time of departure.
9. On the return of the children the Plaintiff/Defendant shall ensure that either he/she or the child(ren) notify the Plaintiff/Defendant of the child (ren)’s return.
10. The Plaintiff/Defendant shall have the-right of telephone contact with the minor child/ren. Said phone· calls shall occur at reasonable hours, at the expense of the Plaintiff/Defendant , and the calls shall be reasonable in duration.
11. Each parent shall keep the other informed on a current basis as to the Primary residence address and telephone number where the child resides or visits.
All the judges should be receptive to the best interest of the children and will be alert to potential abuse by the custodial parent.
Please call me if you have any questions about out-of-state visitation in your specific case as what each judge may do will be based upon the individual facts regarding the children.
My phone number is 205-987-2005.
Remember You Are Not Alone!