Custody and Parenting Time (Visitation) Orders
Parents that separate will need to have a plan for deciding how their children will be cared for and where they will live or spend time. Sometimes parents can agree to a parenting plan, and other times they need the help of the court to come up with a plan that is in the best interest of their children. This section will explain the law about custody and visitation (also called “parenting time”) of children, and how to ask for a court order, respond to a request, change an existing order, or enforce an order.
Click on the topic below that deals with your specific situation.
Learn what the law says about child custody and visitation cases, what terms are used in court, and the types of orders you can ask for.
To set up a child custody and visitation order, you or the other parent must ask the court for an order. You can both also reach an agreement and have the judge sign it as a court order. Learn how.
If you got papers that ask the court to make an order about child custody and visitation, you can respond if you want to have a say. Learn how to respond and how to ask for the orders you want the judge to make.
After there is a custody and visitation order in place, 1 or both parents may want to change the order. Find out what you need to do to ask the judge to change your existing order or to change it by agreement between the parents.
When a judge makes an order about child custody and visitation, it becomes a court order and it has the force of law. Learn more about how to enforce a custody order when one parent is not doing what the order says.
This is an online guide for families going through separation and divorce. With three versions – one for parents, one for children, and another for teens and pre-teens – it complements the legal information found here.
2016 Judicial Council of California