4 Types of Visitation Orders in California

When parents file for a divorce in California, they can either determine who will have custody of the children or the court will decide at a hearing (if the parents cannot reach an agreement during mediation). There are two kinds of custody: legal custody and physical custody. 

Legal custody determines who will make important decisions for the child, such as education, healthcare, religion, etc. Physical custody refers to where the child will live. Divorcing parents can either obtain joint or sole legal or physical custody. 

If a parent has the child less than half of the time, then he/she will be granted visitation rights. Visitation—also known as a “time-share”—is a plan for how much time each parent spends with the child. 

The following are the four main types of visitation orders in California: 

  1. Scheduled visitation – In general, having a detailed visitation schedule is beneficial to both parents and the children because it prevents confusion and conflicts. Either the parents or the court (if the parents cannot come to an agreement) can determine the dates and times that each parent will spend with the children. Visitation schedules can include school breaks, holidays, vacations, and special occasions (e.g., birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and other important dates that are family-related). 

  1. Reasonable visitation – This type of visitation is open-ended and doesn’t detail the dates and times when the children will be with each parent. Reasonable visitation is best for parents who have an amicable and respectful relationship and can communicate effectively with one another. However, an open schedule can leave room for disagreements and misunderstandings., which can lead to co-parenting issues. 

  1. Supervised visitation – This type of visitation involves a third party (e.g., the other parent, another adult, or a professional agency) supervising a parent during scheduled visits with his/her children. A judge may order supervised visitation to when there is a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse, when there is a parental threat of abduction, or otherwise when there are parenting concerns. In addition, supervised visitation is used to help a parent reintroduce himself/herself to a child after either a long absence or when there is no existing relationship. 

  1. No visitation – If supervised or unsupervised visitation would be emotionally or physically harmful to the children, then a judge may not order any visitation for one parent. In such cases, having any contact with the parent is not in the best interests of the children. 

Judges will decide whether to order custody or visitation based on the child’s best interests. Common factors include the age and health of the child, the relationship and emotional ties between the children and the parents, each parent’s ability to care for the child, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse. 

If you are interested in obtaining or modifying a visitation order in the San Fernando Valley, CA, call Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law at (818) 839-2533 or fill out our online contact form today to request an initial consultation. Our firm has more than 30 years of legal experience!