Child Custody and Visitation

Basic Child Custody and Visitation Principles


Going through a custody battle is rough. What makes matters worse is legal jargon, terminology, or lingo. Courts will throw around words like “physical custody” or “primary custody” or “legal custody.” These terms, being somewhat basic, are used, without fail, every day. For this reason, I wanted to take time to write about a few basic child custody and visitation and principles.


First and foremost, it’s important to remember, the court will do what is in the best interest of the children. The court will not care for petty differences between the parties, but what arrangement the children will best thrive in.


  1. Custody

Who does the child live with primarily? Who makes decisions regarding the child? These are questions that address both physical and legal custody.


  1. Primary Custody

Primary custody refers to the parent who the child lives with when not visiting the other parent, sometimes referred to as the Custodial Parent. The court orders physical custody depending on certain factors (child’s age, health, prior living arrangement). For example, typically in cases involving young children, courts will order primary custody to the mother due to the age of the child, the child primarily living with the mother and the preexisting relationship between a mother and her child. The father will be considered the non-custodial parent in this application.


  1. Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the person who makes decisions regarding the child. Such decisions can include medical, emergency and school decisions. Most times, the court will order joint legal custody, allowing both parents to equally make decisions regarding their child. However, depending on the facts, the court may be convinced that it is in the best interest of the child to give one parent full legal custody.


  1. Visitation

As explained above, the court will make orders regarding custody of the child. Visitation depends on the custody order. For example, if the mother gets physical custody of the young child, then the father will get reasonable visitation. What’s reasonable? Well, there’s no clear answer. Reasonableness depends on the facts of the case and can vary quite a bit. What about joint physical custody? Joint physical custody is when the court orders 50/50 (or as close as they can to equal) custody. Here, both parents will share in equal parenting time.


It’s important to remember that visitation percentages and time play a role in child support calculations. Depending on your custody and visitation allocation, the amount of child support may be great. Call us at 619-773-7333 to discuss your unique case. We care about you and we will make sure to fight for the best possible outcome throughout each and every step of the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *