grandfather holding baby

As a family law attorney in Santa Rosa, California, Richard Sax is here to answer common child custody and visitation questions that you may have.

In the Family Law Lawyer Tips: Child Custody in California blog, we discussed child custody in California, including the differences between physical and legal custody. In this blog, we will discuss how these arrangements are made.

How do judges determine custody and visitation?

The best interest of the children is always the utmost importance. The goal is to maintain the best situation for the health, safety, and welfare of the children. The following factors are considered when making this decision:

  • History of domestic violence
  • History of drug/alcohol abuse
  • Current relationship with each parent and how much contact they have with the children
  • Age of the children
  • The children’s preference if they are old enough to make an informed opinion

Note that no bias will be given to the mother or father in deciding custody and visitation in the state of California. The parents are considered equally regardless of gender.

How are visitation orders determined?

If sole physical custody was awarded to one parent, the court will order visitation rights for the other parent. General details included in the visitation are:

  • Pick-up and drop-off locations for visits
  • Who is responsible for transporting where along with who will pay for transport
  • A schedule specifying when visitation will occur
  • This schedule is centered around holidays, birthdays, and vacations

If the parent has a history of alcohol/drug abuse or domestic violence, the court may rule that unsupervised visitation is not in the child’s best interest. In such cases, supervised visitation can take place at a local county or city facility. Additionally, if the child and parent have been out of contact for a significant amount of time, supervised visitation may be ordered until the child is more comfortable being alone with that parent.

Once custody and visitation are decided, can they be changed?

Absolutely. The needs of the children may change as they grow. The parents’ lives and needs may change as well. It is common to need to rework custody and visitation arrangements.

Can parents agree to their own custody and visitation arrangements?

family fishingYes. As a family law attorney, it is always my wish that parents can reach their own agreement. Some are able to do so with great success. In such situations, the arrangement must be written and submitted to a judge to review and approve.

If the parents cannot agree, they must first try mediation where a neutral, third-party mediator will help them reach an agreement together. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parents will go to a hearing where the judge will decide.

Family Law Attorney in Santa Rosa, California

If you are in need of a family law attorney in Santa Rosa, California to represent you in your custody and visitation battle, The Law Offices of Richard Sax are here to help. We understand the intricacies of the family law court and seek the best outcome for you and your family. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling 707-525-1824 or emailing


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