There are several different ways visitation may be awarded that divorcing or unmarried parents in California should be familiar with. Visitation is important to both parents, as well as the child, and should be understood so parents know what to expect from the child custody process.
How child custody is determined
To begin with, child custody decisions are made based on several factors that are used to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Factors that are evaluated when making child custody decisions include the age and health of the child; the emotional ties between the parents and the child; the child’s connection to their school, home or community; the ability of the parents to care for the child; and any history of family violence or substance abuse.
The different ways visitation may be decided
Part of determining a child custody arrangement may be to award one of the parents visitation rights. There are several different ways visitation may be awarded.
- Visitation according to a schedule: To help avoid conflicts and confusion, it is helpful for parents and the family law court to come up with a visitation schedule. The visitation schedule will be used to detail dates and times the child will be with each parent. Included in the schedule can be holidays, special occasions and vacations.
- Reasonable visitation: A visitation order that specifies reasonable visitation does not necessarily specify the times the child will spend with each parent. Reasonable visitation is more open-ended, allowing the parents to work out visitation between them. If the parents get along, can be flexible and are able to communicate, reasonable visitation may be fine.
- Supervised visitation: If there is a concern about the child’s safety or well-being supervised visitation may be required. This means that the other parent, another adult or a professional agency will supervise the child’s visit with the parent.
It is also possible that no visitation will be ordered if one of the parents is considered physically or emotionally harmful towards the child and even supervised visitation would not mitigate those concerns. This may be determined to be in the best interests of the child. Based on what is best for the child, the best visitation option will be awarded so parents should be aware of the different options for visitation.