Mar. 2, 2021

Child Custody and Visitation

Custody of Children

There are two types of custody of children—legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody determines which parent will make decisions concerning the child's health, safety, education and welfare. If one parent is authorized to make these decisions alone it is known as sole legal custody, and it is called joint legal custody if both parents retain those rights. If there is joint legal custody, the parents should cooperate in making the decisions, but one parent can make the decisions alone.

Physical custody determines where the child will reside. If sole physical custody is ordered, the child will live with one parent and visit the other parent. Joint physical custody means the child will reside with both parents.

Visitation of Children

There are two types of visitation—unsupervised visitation and supervised visitation.

Unsupervised visitation: This is where the non-custodial parents can have visits with the child without having another adult present during the visit. If visitation is unsupervised the parents need to develop a visitation plan which is very specific about which weeks of the month the visits will occur. The pick-up an drop-off times should also be specific. The more specific the plan the easier it will be to enforce.

Supervised visitation: When the safety and well-being of the child is an issue, visits with the non-custodial parent may be required to be supervised by the custodial parent, another adult or an agency as ordered by the court.

No visitation: No visitation may be ordered in extreme situations in which the child may be physically or emotionally harmed by having contact with the parent.

Establish, Modify/Change Order

After you have filed a Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation, Nullity, or Paternity, you may file the necessary paperwork to obtain orders to establish child custody, visitation and/or support. If you want to modify an existing order, you must file the appropriate paperwork for a Notice of Motion or Request for Order. Court orders can be obtained only after the appropriate paperwork is filed, a hearing is scheduled, and notice of hearing is served on the other party. Service should be done to allow sufficient time for the other party to file a response. These documents must be filed in Room 103 of the Courthouse.

If there is an emergency, a judge may grant a Temporary Order. A Temporary Order is issued only for emergencies that cannot wait for the normal hearing process. It is the general policy that judges do not make temporary orders unless both sides have an opportunity to be heard.


For Ex Parte hearings you must follow Local Rule 17.1 Your request for an Ex-Parte hearing must be in writing. You must contact the Family Law Department at (530) 406-6722 or (530) 406-6922 to get approval of the court to schedule a hearing and get the time and date for the hearing. You must give the other party notice that you are requesting an emergency temporary order at least 24 hours before you request the order from the court. The notice must be given in person or by telephone. If the other party is represented by an attorney, that attorney must receive notice. In rare instances of immediate threat of danger or harm, the court may shorten the time for giving notice.

The Family Law Facilitator may be of assistance in helping you complete and fill out your paperwork. The office is located at 1000 Main Street, 2nd Floor Room 2001, Woodland, CA 95695, (530) 406-6794, hours: Mon-Thurs - 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Fri - 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 (noon).

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