When divorce involves children, you’ll hear the terms “visitation” and “child custody” a lot, and many people assume that these two terms mean the same thing; however, that isn’t the case at all. To give you a better understanding, let’s take a closer look at these two terms.

What’s the Difference Between Child Custody and Child Visitation?


Child Custody


As mentioned, child custody refers to the legal and/or physical custody of a child. The parent who is granted legal custody is primarily in charge of making decisions that pertain to the child; schooling, healthcare, etc. The parent who is granted physical custody is the parent with who the child will live with.


There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody




Who makes choices concerning the children’s health, education, and welfare is referred to as legal custody. This includes determining where the children will attend school and whether or not they will need braces on their teeth. If the parents have joint legal custody, both parents can request information on their children from schools and doctors. It is critical to understand who makes which decisions so that there are no later disagreements.




Physical custody refers to the amount of time the children spend on a regular basis with each parent. For example, the children may spend school days with one parent and weekends with the other, adding a mid-week supper visit. The parents can divide their vacation and holiday time.


If the parents live close to each other and get along as parents, the children may go back and forth without a set schedule. The majority of parents require a timetable.


Joint physical custody is a wonderful option for parents who can reach an agreement on their own or with the assistance of a mediator. It necessitates parental cooperation, adaptability, and open communication..


A judicial authority may grant both parents joint legal custody but not joint physical custody in some cases. This means that both parents bear equal responsibility for major decisions affecting their children’s lives. However, the children spend the majority of their time with one parent. The parent who does not have physical custody of the children usually schedules time with the children.


Also Read: An Important Thing To Know Before Hiring a Divorce Lawyer


Child Visitation


Visitation refers to the time that is granted to the parent who does not have physical custody of the child to visit with their child. It usually involves adhering to a visitation schedule that has been developed and approved by the court.

As you can see, child custody and child visitation are actually opposite from one another. If you are looking for expert advice on child custody or visitation rights so you can make sure your children are taken care of properly, contact the expert family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Stuart E. Williams.