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Understanding Visitation Rights in California

In the state of California, courts try to ensure that each parent is involved in the lives of their children as much as possible. However, the primary focus will always be on what’s in the best interest of the child. As such, issues can arise that affect visitation rights. For this reason, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney in San Jose, California.

For instance, you may have a criminal record or financial issues that prevent you from caring for a child. If so, your attorney can guide you through the child custody process and help you protect your visitation rights.

How California Courts Decide Custody & Visitation

California courts grant child custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. Judges consider several different factors when granting custody, such as:

  • The child’s age
  • The child’s mental and physical health
  • The emotional connection between the parent and the child
  • The parent’s ability to care for the child
  • Any history of abuse, violence, or substance abuse
  • The child’s connection with their community

In some cases, the courts may choose to award the child to someone other than the parents if neither parent is capable of caring for the child. For instance, the court may award guardianship to a grandparent or other member of the family.

Legal Custody and Physical Custody in Visitation Orders

In visitation cases, there are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody involves deciding which parent can make important decisions for the child. Decisions may include the child’s activities, welfare, education, residence, healthcare, or travel. One or both parents may have legal custody of the child and share in the decision-making.

Physical Custody

Physical custody includes both sole custody and joint custody. Physical custody involves which parent the child lives with. If sole custody is awarded to one parent, then the other parent is granted visitation rights according to the family’s situations.

What Are Visitation Orders?

A judge may grant equal legal custody to both parents, but sole physical custody to one parent. If so, the other parent is granted visitation rights. There are four main types of visitation orders.

No Visitation

No visitation means that the judge deems a parent unfit to be around the child even with supervision. Under these circumstances, the parent may not spend time with or pursue the child in any way.

Supervised Visitation

In this situation, the judge rules that a parent is not fit for joint child custody, but may spend time with the child under supervision. The visitation may be supervised by another adult or a court-approved agency.

Reasonable Visitation

A parenting plan, also known as reasonable visitation, is usually worked out by both parents and approved by the court. There is some flexibility in visitation scheduling and time spent with the child, as long as both parents agree with the arrangement.

Scheduled Visitation

To prevent confusion or conflicts, the parents agree to a visitation schedule, which is then approved by the court. Visitation schedules may include weekends, holidays, or special occasions. If the arrangement is legally binding, then one or both parents must petition the court to alter the schedule.

Hiring an Attorney for Visitation Rights

If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, then you may want to hire a family law attorney in San Jose, California. An attorney can discuss your case, answer your questions, and go over your legal options. They can also help you avoid common mistakes that spouses make when fighting for visitation rights.

A qualified family law attorney can gather evidence, speak with witnesses, and help you develop a legal strategy to protect your parental rights. Your lawyer will advocate for you during mediation and help you work out disputes involving your children. They can also defend you in court if you have been accused of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse in the home.

Work With The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer Today

Protect your parental rights today by hiring a family law attorney in San Jose, California. The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer helps clients in divorce and child custody cases. We provide legal services in San Jose, Morgan Hill, Fremont, Hayworth, Alameda County, Santa Clara County, and Pleasanton, California. Call us today for a free case review.


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