One of the most important aspects of divorce court decisions is that of child custody and parental visitation rights. Just because a husband and wife are getting divorced doesn't mean that parents and children are getting divorced as well. Thus, the law provides special attention to protecting parent-child relationships even in the aftermath of a divorce.
California allows for two types of child custody: legal and physical. The former has to do with making important decisions in behalf of a child, like where he/she will attend school or which doctor he/she will see. The latter simply refers to where the child will physically reside. Both types of custody can be joint or sole.
Visitation rights can take on four forms in California: a detailed visitation schedule, an open-ended agreement between parents to work out a "reasonable" visitation schedule "as they go along," supervised visitation where the other parent or a professional must be present during visits, and the disallowance of any and all visitation rights. The court has authority to act in making decisions on both custody and visitation issues, but courts prefer to allow parents to come up with a plan of their own, possibly with the help of a court-appointed mediator.