In California, visitation is an issue that is dealt with during a child custody proceeding. Divorces can take an emotional toll on children and therefore, despite having to live apart, California law tends to encourage both parents to have the ability to spend time with the child and maintain a relationship with the child. All in all, custody and visitation rights rights in California are primarily concerned with putting the child first.
Types of Visitation Orders
When a child lives with one parent most of the time, it is said that the other parent has visitation. Sometimes, a judge may give both parents joint legal custody of the child, but not joint physical custody. This means that both parents have the right to make important decisions regarding the child's health, welfare and education, but the child physically lives with only one parent the majority of the time. There are three types of visitation orders that a judge may give:
- Visitation: The parent who has the children less than half of the time is said to have visitation. Detailed visitation plans help the parents and the children avoid confusion and conflict.
- Supervised visitation: Sometimes the court will require that the child has a supervising adult or professional agency with him/her when visiting the parent that has visitation. This may be because the child's safety and welfare requires it. It may also be because the parent and child need time to get to know one another and feel comfortable around one another (i.e. the child has not seen the parent in a very long time).
- No visitation: if visiting with the parent would be physically or emotionally harmful to the child, the judge will order no visitation (i.e. in cases of domestic violence or child abuse). The court is always most concerned with what is in the best interests of the child. If that means that the child does not visit with one of their parents, then the court will ensure that the child is protected through no visitation.
Advances in modern-day technology are allowing for creative ways to accommodate visitation between parents. Virtual visitation is one method which allows parent and child to visit via webcam, video phone or computer software. Although certainly a significant step away from the typical visitation where a parent picks up or drops off a child at another parent's home for a visit, this may be a valuable option for parent and children who are no longer in close proximity, or where work and school schedules make standard visitation difficult to arrange.
Problems and legal issues with this form of visitation are yet to make themselves fully known, but this is but one of the tools available that can help promote family ties in the absence of the personal presence of a parent.
Consider speaking with a California child custody lawyer if you have additional questions about visitation rights in California or need counsel.