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What is the Difference Between Child Custody and Visitation?

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Many parents are not sure what the difference is between the phrase child custody and visitation.  Since the two are often seen alongside each other in many court orders involving children of divorce. While the two are often seen together, they are not the same when you consider their legal meanings.

Defining Child Visitation: The phrase child visitation refers to parenting time or the amount of time a parent spends with their child. When one speaks of a child visitation schedule or arrangement, they are discussing what days, times, and how frequently a parent will spend time with their child.

Defining Child Custody: Child custody can refer to two different types of Custody: legal or physical Custody. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make decisions on behalf of their child. Physical custody refers to the rights of a parent to have a child live with them.

There are also two methods of “holding” custody of your child: sole custody and joint custody. Both legal and physical custody can be broken down into sole or joint custody. For instance, a parent may be awarded sole legal custody, and joint physical custody of their child or they may be awarded sole legal and physical custody of the child, etc.

If a parent has sole legal custody, they can make unilateral decisions about the child’s education, health, and welfare. Parents that share joint legal custody must discuss it and make decisions together on behalf of their minor child. Sole legal custody means that the parent has a right to have the child live with them. It can also mean that the custodial parent has the presumptive right to move away with the child. It would be the responsibility of the other parent to prove to the court that relocation would not be in the child’s best interest and request a modification of child custody in response to the move. Any combination of the listed custody arrangements is possible when going through a California divorce with children.

If you have questions about the potential child custody orders you can expect in your upcoming divorce proceedings, please get in touch with one of the experienced California divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.  

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