Types of Visitation in California
Several factors go into decisions related to visitation in California, such as the ages of the children, work requirements, and living arrangements of the parents. Like all decisions about child custody, however, the focus is on the best interests of the children.
Typically decided as part of a child custody process, a visitation order outlines a plan for how parents will share time with their children after a divorce.
Several factors go into decisions related to visitation, such as the ages of the children, work requirements, and living arrangements of the parents. Like all decisions about child custody, however, the focus is on the best interests of the children.
California law grants four types of visitation.
Visitation According to a Schedule
Whether parents create their own visitation plans or go through a family law mediator, a judge confirms the plan as an official court order. This plan typically includes a schedule of dates and times the children will be with each parent—during weekdays, weekends, holidays, and vacations. Arrangements for special events and occasions such as birthdays, weddings and graduations, may also be included.
Having this detailed calendar helps parents and children know what to expect and to avoid conflicts or confusion.
A reasonable visitation order awards the visiting parent the right to spend a "reasonable" amount of time with his or her children. The judge leaves it up to both parents to define what that reasonable amount will be. This mostly open-ended agreement can range from being simple to extremely detailed. California offers uniform visitation or parenting guidelines to help.
In addition to the benefits of flexibility—especially for busy kids and parents with inconsistent work schedules—this unrestricted arrangement serves to promote ongoing cooperation between parents.
TalkingParents Co-Parenting Communication service is a web and mobile app that helps co-parents make decisions and talk in a safe and secure platform. The Unalterable Records all allow both parents to go back and refer to past messages at any time.
For protection and safety, a judge sometimes orders that a child only has contact with a parent when a neutral third person—a family member, friend, or paid professional—is present.
Called "supervised visitation," this agreement applies in cases where there are concerns about domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, or when there is a threat of parental abduction. It may also be the case when a child and a parent need time to get to know each other—if they have had no existing relationship or they haven't seen each other in a long time and need to get reacquainted.
A court orders no visitation when it determines that a parent's contact, even with supervision, is a danger to the children's physical health and/or emotional development.
Parents who wish to stop visitation must make a case before the court, providing enough evidence to convince a judge that visitation is not in the children's best interests.
Parents who believe their children are in immediate danger from the other parent can take or keep the children for safety. It is important that the parent follow up on this action by taking legal steps. Keeping a child away from the other parent can be a violation of custody and visitation orders, and can be considered child abduction under California law.