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Courts have broad discretion in setting visitation. Most Judges award visitation according to a standard visitation schedule. A copy of the visitation schedule of the second judicial district of Arkansas is listed below. However, if the child is under the age of 5 years old, the court will often alter the award of visitation as the court seems fit. In doing so, the court will look at various circumstances of the case including: age of the child, relationship between child and non-custodian parent, best interest of the child, etc... Common visitation changes by the court include: no overnight visitation until the child is of a certain age, shorter visits, and greater number of visits to offset shorter visits. It is not uncommon for some Judges to implement a graduating scale of visitation until the noncustodial parent receives standard visitation when the child reaches a particular age.
Courts are often requested to limit visitation by the custodial parent as follows: 1. Visitation to be supervised. This does not necessarily mean supervised by the custodial parent. Oftentimes, the parties will agree who may supervise, such as the noncustodial grandparent. Court will require a showing that the noncustodial parent is dangerous or unfit. 2. Third parties to not be present at visitation or during custody. 3. Physical condition of the parent during visitation or custody. The parent is not to drink alcohol, take illegal drugs, or smoke cigarettes while in the presence of the minor child. 4. Physical location. The child is not to go to a particular location or in other cases is not to leave a particular location or set of locations. The burden of proving the limitation is in the child's best interest is on the requesting party. However, for many requests, the judge is predisposed to grant the limitation.
Oftentimes, there may be an obstacle to awarding standard visitation. The noncustodial parent works a schedule that does not allow for weekend visitation or night-time visitation. The parents live a great distant apart so that frequent visitation is very difficult. In these cases, the court will structure visitation as best it can as the situation allows.
Visitation and support are independent orders. Failure to have visitation does not affect support due.
What about a breach by the non-cusodial parent? The non-custodial parent does not exercise his visitation rights. What can be done about it? The court cannot force visitation. The court can increase child support to cover the costs of additional day-care, food, activities, etc... The court can alter the amount of visitation rights so the custodial parent does not have constantly make plans for a non-custodial parent who does not show up for visitation time and again after stating they are going to do so.
What can be done about a custodial parent who desires to relocate? Under Arkansas law, the custodial parent has the right to relocate if there is any, any, any, no matter how small, reason to do so. However, the custodial parent is oftentimes required to obtain court approval first before doing so.
Remedies for Violating a Visitation Order. There are several remedies available to the non-cutodial parent if there is interference with the visitation schedule, including: 1. An action for Contempt of Court. This will often end in a slap on the wrist for small offenses the first time or two, but someone who repeatedly violates the court's orders after being admonished, the court will order a change of custody. 2. Terminate or reduce alimony. 3. Terminate or reduce child support. This is extremely unlikely as it would be viewed as not in the best interest of the child and putative against the child. The court is more likely to change custody than reduce or terminate child support. 4. Change of custody. 5. There are criminal charges in Arkansas that may be pressed for interference with visitation.
REVISED MINIMUM COURT VISITATION SCHEDULE OF THE
SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
Visitation with the children by the non-custodial parent shall be as determined by the Court, but will generally be in accord with the following schedule:
1. Alternate weekends - commencing at 5:00 p.m. on Fridays and continuing until 6:00 p.m. on Sundays.
2. Week-day visitation - During the week in which there is no weekend visitation scheduled, such parent will be entitled to visitation with the minor child(ren) on Wednesday evening from 5 p.m. until the child(ren) are returned to school, or the custodial parent the following morning. During the week in which there is scheduled weekend visitation, the non-custodial parent will be entitled to visitation with the child(ren) on Wednesday evening from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. In the event the non-custodial parentís work schedule is such that he or she has a weekday other than Wednesday off work, the weekday visitation may be scheduled on such day.
3. Holiday Designation - In odd-numbered years, Easter, July 4th, and Thanksgiving. In even-numbered years, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Visitation will commence at 5:00 p.m. on the day preceding such holidays, and conclude at 8:00 p.m. on the final day of visitation. For example, Thanksgiving visitation would commence at 5:00 p.m. on the last Wednesday in November, and continue until Sunday at 8:00 p.m. If the child(ren)ís school grants extra days for any holiday, the visitation will coincide with the school break. For holidays which are observed on a Friday or Monday, visitation shall include the weekend before or after such holiday observance. Holiday visitation which falls on a weekend will take precedence over the weekend schedule, so that a party may lose a regular weekend visitation to another parties holiday weekend.
4. If the child(ren) receive a "spring break" from school, the non-custodial parent will have visitation during such period in odd-numbered years.
5. Christmas visitation - Visitation will commence, alternating odd and even numbered years, either one week prior to Christmas Day, or for school age children at the time the school goes into recess for the Christmas holidays, and will continue until 9:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve; or commence at 9:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and continue until 6:00 p.m. on the day prior to resumption of school or one week after Christmas Day. The party having the child(ren) before Christmas one year will have the child(ren) after Christmas the following year.
6. The father of the child(ren) will always have visitation the weekend of Fatherís Day, and the mother will have visitation the weekend of Motherís Day.
7. The non-custodial parent will have visitation on the child(ren)ís birthday in odd-numbered years.
8. Summer visitation is fixed at six-weeks, which may be divided into two three-week periods at the option of the non-custodial parent. Written notice as to the time and manner of visitation will be provided at least thirty (30) days in advance of the exercise of visitation. In the event the non-custodial parent chooses to exercise the summer visitation in one six-week period, at the end of the third week the custodial parent, at his or her expense, will have a two day visitation period, from 8:00 A.M. on the first day until 6:00 P.M. on the second day. Vacations including the child(ren) which will continue more than three consecutive days will require notification to the other parent of the vacation destination, and if known, the telephone number where the child(ren) may be called in the event of an emergency only. Every effort will be made by the parties to coordinate their vacation schedules in order that the child(ren) will have the opportunity to spend vacation time with both parents.
9. Telephone communication - Both parties will provide current addresses and current telephone numbers at which the child(ren) may be reasonably accessed by mail and/or telephone at reasonable times.
10. The minimum visitation noted above will be in addition to all other reasonable visitation. In the event the non-custodial parent shall be unable to exercise a scheduled visitation, or will be late, he or she shall, as quickly as is practical, contact the custodial parent and advise as to the cancellation or length of delay. Unless otherwise provided by the court, the pickup and delivery of child(ren) for visitation will be the responsibility of the non-custodial parent or any competent adult designated for that purpose.
11. Visitation shall not, absent emergency conditions or situations, be independently suspended or terminated by either parent for any reason, including non-payment of child support. Any suspension or termination for emergency purposes will result in the immediate, written notification to the opposing party as to the reason for such termination.
12. Children shall not be permitted nor required to make decisions regarding visitation and the custodial parent is charged with the duty and responsibility to insure compliance with the visitation schedule.
13. Violation of the visitation order may result in a change in the custody of the child(ren), a limitation or termination of visitation, a finding of contempt of court, or such other action as the court deems appropriate.
In addition to other factors that a court shall consider in a proceeding in
which the temporary custody of a child or temporary visitation by a parent is at
issue and in which the court has made a finding of domestic or family violence,
the court shall consider:
(1) As primary the safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the plaintiff of domestic or family violence; and
(2) The defendant's history of causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault to another person.
(b) If a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of domestic or family violence by the other parent, the absence or relocation is not a factor that weighs against the parent in determining custody or visitation.
(c) There shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interest of the child to be placed in the custody of an abusive parent in cases where there is a finding, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a pattern of abuse has occurred.
A court of this state which does not have jurisdiction to modify a child-custody
determination, may issue a temporary order enforcing:
(1) a visitation schedule made by a court of another state; or
(2) the visitation provisions of a child-custody determination of another state that does not provide for a specific visitation schedule.
(b) If a court of this state makes an order under subdivision (a)(2) of this section, it shall specify in the order a period that it considers adequate to allow the petitioner to obtain an order from a court having jurisdiction under the criteria specified in subchapter 2 of this chapter. The order remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other court or the period expires.
As used in this subchapter:
(1) "Child" means any person under the age of eighteen (18) years;
(2) "College" means any public institution of higher education.
(b) Any noncustodial parent who has been awarded visitation rights by the court with respect to a child shall, upon request, be provided a copy of the current scholastic records of such child by the school district or college attended by the child.
When any chancery court in this state determines the paternity of a child and orders the father to make periodic payments for support of the child, the court may also grant reasonable visitation rights to the father and may issue such orders as may be necessary to enforce the visitation rights.
(1) A person commits the offense of interference with visitation if,
knowing that he or she has no lawful right to do so, he or she takes, entices,
or keeps any minor from any person entitled by a court decree or order to the
right of visitation with the minor.
(2) A person claiming interference with visitation shall provide a copy of the signed court order or decree regarding custody or visitation rights to a law enforcement officer as proof of the interference with visitation.
(b) (1) (A) Interference with visitation is a Class D felony if the minor is taken, enticed, or kept outside of the State of Arkansas.
(B) Otherwise, it is a Class C misdemeanor.
(2) Any person who has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, or is found guilty of, interference with visitation more than two (2) times shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that:
(1) A person or lawful guardian committed the act to protect the child from imminent physical harm, provided that the defendant's belief that physical harm was imminent is reasonable and the defendant's conduct in withholding visitation rights was a reasonable response to the harm believed to be imminent;
(2) A person or lawful guardian committed the act based on a reasonable belief that the person entitled to visitation would remove the child from the jurisdiction of the court;
(3) The act was committed with the mutual consent of all parties having a right to custody and visitation of the child; or
(4) The act was otherwise authorized by law.
Last Updated: August 1, 2003