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What is Child Visitation?

Visitation, or parenting time, is the plan for how parents will share time with their children. Typically, the parent who does not have physical custody will be granted visitation.

How do I Get an Order for Child Visitation?

Visitation is typically dealt with at the same time as child custody actions.

If the parents are married, one or both parents must have filed for divorce, legal separation, or an annulment to address visitation.

If the parents are unmarried, one or both parents must have filed an action to establish the parental relationship.

Parents may create and agree to their own arrangement for custody and visitation, and simply file the agreement with the court.

Visitation orders may also be modified by either parent, but the parent requesting the change will need to show the court there are legitimate reasons for the change and that the change will still be in the child’s best interests.

Who has Visitation Rights?

California Family Code § 3100 states that a court shall grant reasonable visitation rights to a parent unless it is shown that the visitation would be detrimental to the best interest of the child. Visitation rights may also be granted to any other person who has an interest in the welfare of the child and a court has determined that visitation would be in the child’s best interest. This could be a stepparent, grandparent, other close relatives or former legal guardians (Cal. Fam. Code §3101, 3102, 3103, 3105). A parent or other person may be granted visitation that requires a third person to supervise the visits.

What does a Court Look at in Determining Visitation?

Similar to child custody cases, a court will determine visitation based on the child’s best interests. A court will look at the child’s health, safety, welfare, age, and relationship with both parents (Cal. Fam. Code § 3011).

California public policy wants to ensure that a child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents (Cal. Fam. Code § 3020). A court will look at all of the relevant facts and laws to ensure the best interests of the child are met.


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