Getting a divorce from your spouse is scary, but when children are involved, there is more at stake. Knowing how much time you will be able to spend with your children is important, which is why parenting plans are usually created, detailing child custody and visitation. 

What is Child Custody?

Child custody means somebody who is in charge of taking care of a child under 18 years old. In divorce, the court usually decides between a few types of child custody.

Types of Child Custody

In California, child custody can be either joint or sole, as well as physical or legal custody.

  • Sole physical custody: The children will live and be under the supervision of the one parent, while the other may have visitation rights.
  • Joint physical custody: Both of the parents have significant periods of physical custody.
  • Sole legal custody: One parent will have the right and responsibility to make decisions for the child pertaining to their health, education, as well as wellbeing.
  • Joint legal custody: Both parents will share the right and responsibility to make decisions for the child pertaining to their health, education, as well as wellbeing. They make the decisions together collectively. 

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is court ordered and details child custody as well as visitation. It will also outline how children are to be cared for as well as where they will mainly live, essentially physical and legal custody. 

What is Child Visitation/Parenting Time?

Child visitation is when one parent who does not have more than half physical custody, is entitled to time with their kids. Usually visitation plans are conducted to eliminate conflict. These plans usually include pick up and drop off times, holiday schedule, as well as specific weekends.

Child visitation time is usually determined between the parents’ negotiation, but if no agreement is reached, the court may decide the conditions. A judge will take in factors such as:

  • Child’s age and health
  • Relationship between the parent and the child
  • Parents’ ability to care for the child (financially and emotionally)
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Domestic violence or abuse history 

4 Types of Parenting Time Orders

  • Reasonable: Flexible and open ended so parents can discuss between each other to set their own plan up. This type of order works best if the parents can communicate efficiently between one another, but if not, then a different order may be needed. 
  • Schedule: This plan is when the time a child is with one parent and the other vice versa, is pre-determined. The specific dates and times each parent is with the child is outlined. This includes holidays and vacations.
  • Supervised: If a child’s well-being or safety is of concern with one parent, their visitation with the child is supervised. Usually supervised by the other parent, another adult, or by an agency. Usually supervised visits occur when the child needs to be more familiar with the other parent. An example of this is one parent just got released from jail, and needs to slowly be reintroduced to the child. 
  • No Visitation: This is when any type of visit with the child, supervised or not, is harmful emotionally or physically to the child. Visitation is denied, and the parent won’t be able to see their child.

If one parent does not follow this order, they may face serious penalties. Make sure to document every violation and speak to your Newport Beach family law attorney to help. 

Navigating child custody and visitation can be frightening, but having a parenting plan will ease anxiety and make this situation more organized. 

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