Are Child Custody and Child Visitation the Same Thing?

People who go through a divorce often have no other experience with the legal system. Suddenly entering that world can be confusing, and it’s easy for these people to get lost.

Simply keeping up with the legal jargon can be frustrating. Terms and phrases that lawyers throw around every day can easily over the layperson’s head.

Terms as simple as “child custody” and “child visitation” can start blurring together, even though they should be self-explanatory.

In this article, we will take a step back and help clarify the difference between custody and visitation.

Custody Makes You the Sole Caretaker

When you have custody, you keep the kids for long stretches. During that time, you are the legally responsible parent. You must care for the kids’ nutrition, hygiene, health, safety, and so on.

Even a simple overnight stay is considered custody. If you have the kids for only one weekend a month, you have joint custody.

Make sure you work closely with your lawyer on a specific, rigid parenting plan. All days of physical custody should be clearly defined and scheduled with pick-ups, drop-offs, and more. If either parent is too loose with the plan, they could suffer legal consequences, including hard accusations like kidnapping.

There Are Different Types of Custody

Above, we discussed physical custody, where you have the kids for longer periods. There is another form, called legal custody.

Legal custody gives parents decision-making power over the kids. They can make choices about the kids’ education, healthcare, and more. One parent can have all this power, or the parents can share it.

There are several ways to share legal custody. One parent could have power over education while the other handles healthcare. Both parents can have equal say on both matters, where one has full power over health but shares educational power (or vice versa). Parents can even have “final say” over certain matters. The possibilities stretch on and on.

Visitation Is Scheduled Time with the Kids

Visitation is exactly what it sounds like. It is time that you have with the kids, specifically scheduled. A good parenting plan will include all the details. It will designate times, dates, modes of transportation, responsibility for that transportation, and so forth.

You may be alone with the children during visitation with the understanding that you will return them by a certain time.

You can even schedule electronic visits into your parenting plan. This can include phone calls, video chats, etc. When electronic visits are a part of your official plan, they are just as important as physical visits. The other parent cannot block them, and if they do, they can suffer legal repercussions.

Negotiating a Parenting Plan

Courts always put the child first in custody and visitation decisions, and so should you. If you are creating the plan alongside the other parent, you should consider every aspect of your life. Your schedule, distance, finances, and home conditions all play a part.

Courts can make these decisions for you, but you can also make them yourself. You and the other parent can agree to mediation, where a legal professional helps you work out a parenting plan that is fair and beneficial to everyone.

Our team is here to help you with child visitation, child custody, and all other parts of your parenting plan. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (270) 977-8910.