Understanding the difference between child custody and visitation is crucial in family law. When it comes to the well-being of a child, it is essential to be aware of these terms to make the right decisions for their future. Custody and visitation are often used interchangeably, but they have different legal meanings. In this article, we will delve into the nuances of these terms and help you understand the differences between them.
Custody refers to the legal right of a parent to make important decisions for their child. This includes decisions related to education, healthcare, and religious practices. Custody can be either physical or legal.
Physical custody refers to the living arrangements of the child. It determines which parent the child lives with on a day-to-day basis. In some cases, parents may share physical custody, which means the child spends time living with both parents. However, if one parent has sole physical custody, the child lives with them full-time.
Legal custody refers to the decision-making rights of the parent. It determines who has the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing. If both parents share legal custody, they must make decisions together about the child’s education, healthcare, and other important matters. However, if one parent has sole legal custody, they have the final say on all important decisions related to the child.
Visitation, also known as parenting time, refers to the time a non-custodial parent spends with their child. Visitation can be granted to the non-custodial parent regardless of whether they have legal or physical custody. The purpose of visitation is to maintain the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent.
Visitation can be supervised or unsupervised. Supervised visitation is court-ordered and requires a third-party to be present during the visit. This is usually required when the court believes the child may be in danger or the non-custodial parent may not be capable of caring for the child alone. Unsupervised visitation, on the other hand, does not require a third-party to be present during the visit.
Custody and visitation are different legal concepts, but they are related. Custody determines who has the legal right to make decisions for the child, while visitation determines how much time the non-custodial parent spends with the child.
If one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent may still be granted visitation rights. This means that they will have the right to spend time with the child, but they will not have the legal right to make decisions for them.
On the other hand, if both parents share legal custody, they must make decisions together about the child’s upbringing. In this case, the non-custodial parent may still have visitation rights, but they will not have the final say on important decisions related to the child.
In conclusion, understanding the difference between custody and visitation is essential in family law. Custody determines who has the legal right to make decisions for the child, while visitation determines how much time the non-custodial parent spends with the child. It is important to note that both custody and visitation can be modified by the court if there is a change in circumstances.
As a family law firm, we understand the importance of providing quality legal representation to families dealing with custody and visitation issues. If you are in need of legal assistance, please contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced attorney.