Child Custody and Visitation in California

Child Custody and Visitation in California

Table of Contents

“I want full custody!” is a term that is often used when people go through a child custody battle. However, the parents of the child(ren) must understand how custody works before they start arguing for full custody. First of all, there is no such thing as full custody. In a child custody case, there is legal custody, physical custody, and visitation.

Legal Custody – Legal custody refers to the decisions made by one parent or both parents with respect to the education and religious training, as well as other aspects of the health and welfare of the minor children. Most often, the courts will order joint legal custody when there are not extreme circumstances to justify sole legal custody. This is because the court usually wants both parents to have an input into such important legal decisions as which school or church the child will attend, the doctor that the child goes to regularly, and other such important aspects in a child’s life.

Physical Custody -refers to the parent who will have the primary responsibility for the care, custody, and control of the minor child or children. In other words, the parent who has primary physical custody will have the child living with them in their home. Joint physical custody is when both parents share an equal amount of time with the child or children. Joint physical custody could include when the child spends Monday and Tuesday nights with Mom, Wednesday and Thursday nights with Dad, and alternating weekends with both parents. This would be almost exactly 50% and would thus be joint physical custody. When determining which parent deserves to have primary physical custody, it is a real fact specific question that depends on the situation. If the child is in a school that is close to one parent and has friends that are close to that parent’s home then the court might order primary physical custody for that parent. It all depends on the situation.

Visitation refers to the visitation time that a parent has with their child. Most often this refers to the parent who does not have primary physical custody, i.e. the parent who does not have the child living with them in their home. Visitation time depends entirely on the specific circumstances on your case. The age of your child, the child’s school schedule, the parents’ work and school schedule, all are factors to determine the visitation time, among many other factors.

It is important to understand each aspect involved a child custody case when going through such a case. It’s also important that you hire a lawyer who can fight for your rights to your child. The Law Offices of Michael S. Carrillo has handled countless child custody cases and can fight aggressively to get what you deserve in your child custody case. Call us today for a free consultation at (626) 799-9379 or email Mr. Carrillo directly at

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