The terms "Custody and Visitation" refer to the sharing of parenting responsibilities. Child Custody refers to the rights and responsibilities between parents for taking care of their children. Visitation refers to how each parent will spend time with their children.
"Legal Custody" is a term used to determine who makes important decisions for your children such as health care, primary and secondary education, and general welfare decisions. "Joint legal custody" means both parents participate in decision making process. "Sole legal custody" means that one parent has the responsibility of making decisions regarding the children.
"Physical Custody" refers to who your children will live with after a relationship has ended.
The California Family Code section 3004, expresses a preference for ..."Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way so as to assure a child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents.."
"Visitation" refers to the plan for how parents will share time with their children. A visitation plan/schedule will be determined either by a court order or agreement between the parents.
In California either parent generally can have custody of the children or parents can share custody. If the parents cannot agree to custody the Judge will make the decision.
Custody and Visitation issues can be complex as well as emotional. For example, a parent may want to move out of State with a child, or a parent may seek to limit visitation because of substance abuse by a parent, domestic violence issues. Many factors which may affect custody and visitation.
If your case presents an issues which you believe may affect custody or visitation, it would be a good idea to consult with an attorney. A overarching concern of the Court system is to do what is in the best interests of the child, and the courts default position is to try to afford both parents "frequent and continuing contact" unless circumstances show that is not in the child's best interest.