What is the normal definition of “first weekend of the month”? I am supposed to have visitation with my child the first weekend of every month, but she took her home from school on Friday, April 30. So when the Friday is on the last day of the month and Saturday is the first day of the month, is that the first weekend of the month?
Unfortunately, I do not know of one set, normal definition of first weekend. Sometimes it is specified in the order; for example, father shall have placement one weekend per month, beginning on the first Friday of that month. It is also common that weekends are defined by the dates that the Saturdays and Sundays fall on, even if the order allows for the placement to begin the day before when school lets out.
These detailed specifications are frequently left out of agreements, and courts often do not make orders governing every possibility. Even if parents are not together in a relationship, they still must communicate and work together to co-parent their child. Courts encourage this communication and co-parenting. Many parents who have difficulty communicating in person or by phone find that email helps to exchange dates and times. Additionally, many subscribe to co-parenting websites that have calendar features to help address these unanticipated issues and give the other parent notice about events or scheduling changes or challenges.
More unanticipated issues may arise, and it is likely better for you to address them with the child’s father ahead of time, rather than being surprised. If he typically picks up from school, what happens if the child does not have school that day? What happens during the summer? If this issue is ever brought to court, the judge will likely want to know how these situations were handled in the past to see if there is a deviation from what typically occurred.
Most jurisdictions allow for mediation to help address issues that arise once a placement schedule is in effect. Mediation can either be voluntary or court-ordered, and it allows the parties to sit down with a neutral moderator to discuss these issues and resolve logistical issues for the future.
Angela Foy is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisc., office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Foy is licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Ms. Foy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She then continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Marquette University.