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Child Custody & Visitation

What is "Custody and Visitation?"

When you separate or divorce from your child(ren)'s other parent, you need to decide who will have “custody” of your children and how they will be taken care of.  You also need to decide on "visitation," which means how each parent will spend time with the child(ren).


There are two kinds of “custody” orders:

1. Legal Custody

Legal custody means WHO makes important decisions for your child(ren)'s healthcare, education and welfare; and

2. Physical custody

Physical custody means WITH WHOM your child(ren) live with.


“Visitation” (also called time-share) is:

1. The plan for how the parents will share time with the children.

In California, either parent can have custody, or the parents can share custody. The Judge makes the final decision about custody and visitation but usually will approve the arrangement both parents agree on.

If the parents cannot agree, the Judge will make a decision at a court hearing. The Judge will usually not make a decision about custody/visitation until after the parents have met with a mediator from Family Court Services.

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