Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody and visitation are among the most strongly contested and emotionally challenging issues in a divorce proceeding. While the divorce is about the spouses ending their marriage, it does not have to be the complete demise of the family. Children benefit from a bond with both parents. Working out mutually agreeable custody and visitation agreements that are in the best interest of the child can foster these relationships and help your child flourish.

At our Law Offices you benefit from working with a full-service family law practice dedicated to guiding and supporting you through the divorce process with compassion.

Child custody and visitation in California

In California, public policy is to ensure that children get the benefit of frequent and continuing contact with both parents who have gone their separate ways, whether they are divorced or were never married.

Ideally, both parents work together to develop a parenting plan, a document that details the custody and visitation schedule. A parenting plan is comprehensive and addresses issues such as:

Where the child attends school

How the child spends vacations and school holidays

Childcare arrangements

The religion the child observes

Primary medical and dental care providers

How communication with one parent is handled when the child is with the other

Once the parents work out the details of the parenting plan and the court reviews it, the terms become an enforceable court order.

Legal custody versus physical custody

In a child custody matter, the terms “custody” and “visitation” have legal definitions specific to California that might be different from what people commonly assume them to mean:

Legal custody: Legal custody determines who makes decisions for the children regarding their health, safety, welfare and education. The courts favor awarding joint legal custody in a divorce, allowing each parent to share in the decision-making for the children.

Physical custody: Physical custody determines the parent with whom the child lives. In the case of joint physical custody, the child lives with both parents, alternating weeks or weekends with each.

Visitation: A visitation schedule is an integral part of the parenting plan. It includes the specific days the child is with each parent, pick-up and drop-off times, and a schedule for holidays and vacations.

The courts are trending toward disregarding the gender of parents when making family law decisions, and fathers should have an equal chance of getting custody of their children in a divorce. At our Law Offices we can help you understand and assert your rights. If you want to know how to obtain full custody, assert your visitation rights or deal with a relocation, we can offer advice and effective strategies.