Apr. 18, 2014
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Child Custody & Visitation

What is "custody and visitation?"

When you separate or divorce, you need to decide who will have “custody” of your children and how they will be taken care of. You also need to decide on visitation, which means how each parent will spend time with the children.

There are two kinds of “custody” orders:

  1. Legal custody, which means who makes important decisions for your children's healthcare, education and welfare; and
  2. Physical custody, which means who your children live with.

“Visitation” (also called time-share) is:

  1. The plan for how the parents will share time with the children.

In California, either parent can have custody, or the parents can share custody. The Judge makes the final decision about custody and visitation but usually will approve the arrangement both parents agree on.

If the parents cannot agree, the Judge will make a decision at a court hearing. The Judge will usually not make a decision about custody/visitation until after the parents have met with a mediator from Family Court Services.

Forms

A filing fee will be charged to file an Order to Show cause for Custody and/or Visitation. To find the current fee, please use our fee schedule. If you cannot affordthe filing fee, you may complete an Application for Waiver of Fees.

© 2014 Superior Court of California - County of San Francisco