Confusion over “Every Other Weekends?”
What do the calendar dates Saturday, April 1 and Saturday, July 1, 2017 have in common? They both confuse a lot of people looking at the Standard Possession Order schedule. The reason? The Fridays that come before those 1st Saturdays of April and July are NOT the first Fridays of the month and therefore NOT a weekend a noncustodial parent (NCP) is entitled to exercise possession of the child. This confusion leads NCPs to further miscalculate the rest of their 1st, 3rd, 5th weekends in the month (like erroneously thinking Friday, April 14, 2017 is their possession date when they actually possess their child the weekends beginning Friday, April 7 and 21, 2017). However, the noncustodial parent may still be able to possess the child for the April 1 and July 1 weekends because they stem off the 5th Friday led weekend of the previous month. For example, an NCP would possess the child from 6pm, Friday, March 31 until Sunday 6pm, April 2, 2017, but not because he’s entitled to that “1st weekend of April,” but because he is entitled to the weekend beginning on the 5th Friday of March 2017. Similarly the NCP would possess the child from 6pm, June 30 until 6pm, Sunday, July 2, 2017, not because he gets the “1st weekend of July,” but because he would have possessed the child over the weekend beginning 6pm on the 5th Friday of June (June 30, 2017).
Many parents are therefore incorrect in believing the Standard Possession Order grants noncustodial parents the 1st, 3rd, 5th “weekends” of each month. The Standard Possession Order only refers to NCPs having their weekend possessions begin on the 1st, 3rd, 5th “Fridays” of each month, not 1st, 3rd, 5th weekends. This erroneous belief in 1st, 3rd, 5th weekends leads many noncustodial parents to incorrectly claim a right they do not have under the Standard Possession Order. Here is the language referenced in the Standard Possession Order order (can be found here).
On weekends that occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m., on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.
On weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m., on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.
Back to Back Weekends
Another unintended consequence of the language of the Standard Possession Order is that it occasionally causes back-to-back possession weekends for the NCP. This typically happens when a 1st Friday led weekend of the month is preceded by a 5th Friday led weekend in the prior month. The 2017 calendar transitions of March to April, June to July, and September to October all contain back to back 5th Friday to 1st Friday weekends. Some noncustodial parents like getting this occasional benefit of two weekends in a row.