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San Diego Child Visitation Attorney

A divorce can be a great loss to a child accustomed to living with two parents.

It is important for children, in most situations, to know and have an ongoing relationship with both parents, assuming that both are capable of providing a safe environment for the children during the time when they are together.

In California, the law favors allowing “frequent and continuing contact” between the non-custodial parent and the children of a divorced or unmarried couple.

The exception would be if allowing visitation with the non-custodial parent would be harmful in some way, or “detrimental to the best interest of the child.”

In the absence of any compelling reason to deny it, the non-custodial parent is entitled to “reasonable visitation.”  Contact an experienced San Diego-based child visitation lawyer with any legal questions or concerns.

San Diego Child Visitation Resources

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Why Choose Boyd Law?

At Boyd Law, we understand that family legal matters are among the most personal and emotionally charged cases. Here’s why you should choose our firm for your case:

Unparalleled Expertise: Our firm brings more than fifteen years of experience to the table. Our CEO and lead attorney Karie Boyd is a certified family law specialist, representing clients both in jury and bench trials. In addition, she was ranked as the top 1% of trial attorneys in the nation.

Personalized Attention: At Boyd Law, you aren’t a number. You are someone who we will fight for every step of the way, as we strive to provide the best service to every client that we work with.

Initial Consultations: For your first meeting with us, we will proudly give you an honest assessment of your case, the facts, and the best steps moving forward.


Still hesitant about hiring us? Here’s what some of our proud clients have to say.

“Matt Cadwell helped me finish a long time case I’ve been trying to wrap up for years. He was completely understanding, professional and worked very diligently to the end and I’m so grateful! Highly recommend!!” – Kimberly

“We highly recommend Ms. Karie Boyd – and Boyd Law Firm… they are truly professional and “results’ oriented”… Our publishing company is at ease knowing they have our back!” – Baja Traveler 

“Great experience overall having Matt Cadwell as my attorney. Matt understands his client, very insightful and is an expert in his field. Truly a professional and marvelous individual.”  – Steve

Child Custody and Visitation in California

Ideally, the parents will be able to agree on an appropriate visitation schedule themselves. If not, the court will assume that responsibility. If the parents can’t agree, what constitutes “reasonable visitation” is left to the court’s discretion and is meant to be decided according to what is in the child’s best interests. A determination of what is reasonable will usually include splitting major holidays between the two parents. If you and your ex- or soon-to-be-ex spouse or partner haven’t managed to reach an agreement, your child visitation lawyer in San Diego can help negotiate a fair arrangement, in order to avoid unnecessary court intervention.

A court will take into consideration the child’s age, special needs, and maturity, along with how much travel is required and, in an older child, the child’s own preference.

When faced with a dispute over appropriate visitation time, the San Diego family law attorneys from Boyd Law can be an invaluable resource to help negotiate a solution outside of court or make a strong argument to a judge.

Older Children and Visitation

As children get older, they may have strong opinions about whether or not they wish to visit the non-custodial parent. With younger children, it is expected that the custodial parent will enforce visitation as ordered by the court; failing to do so could result in a contempt of court order. This is not necessarily so with a teenager who has other plans and refuses to honor the visitation schedule. The courts generally recognize that after a child reaches a certain age, it may be beyond the ability of the custodial parent to force visitation when faced with a recalcitrant teen.

Contact our San Diego child visitation lawyers

Child Support Payments vs. Child Visitation Rights

Although there is an interplay between the amount of time each parent spends with the children and the amount of the support award, it is very important to understand that being current on child support payments is not a requirement for continued visitation rights. Child support is an entirely separate matter. The only reason that visitation will be suspended is if it can be shown that it is in some way detrimental to the child. Timely payments are a financial matter between the custodial and non-custodial parent and have nothing to do with visitation.

Nor can visitation be discontinued because of the custodial parent’s disapproval of the non-custodial parent’s religious beliefs, sexual preference, or lifestyle (unless some element of the lifestyle, for example, heavy illegal drug use, can be shown to actually be detrimental to the child).

Decision-Making During Visitation Periods

Even during visitation, a parent with legal child custody retains the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, not the parent the child is visiting, except when the two share joint legal custody.

Changing Visitation Arrangements

Life goes on after a divorce, and people’s situations seldom remain the same for long: a new job, a new marriage, or the desire to move to be near family are just a few of the changes that may occur in the life of a custodial parent, requiring altered visitation arrangements; likewise, the non-custodial parent may be affected by changing circumstances that interfere with the original visitation schedule.

When one parent wants to move and will no longer be able to adhere to the ordered visitation schedule, if the parents can’t agree on other arrangements, it will be necessary to involve the court once more. These situations can be extremely contentious and their outcome will often have a significant effect on the parties. Your attorney will help to negotiate an agreement that works for all concerned; otherwise, the court will decide, and the result may not be the one you want. Having the Boyd Law Firm on your side can be extremely beneficial in coming to an agreement outside of court, or in arguing for your preferred solution before a judge that the change you’re requesting is in the children’s best interest.

Contact Boyd Law Today

Visitation is often the most contentious issue in a divorce or legal separation. Don’t face it alone. The experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate attorneys at Boyd Law in San Diego understand the difficulties you are facing and can assist you in making a case for a solution that works for you and your family. Don’t take the battle on alone. Call Boyd Law and arrange an appointment for a free consultation to learn how we can help.

Locations We Serve

We serve many locations in San Diego including:

La Mesa | Rancho Peñasquitos | Solana BeachPoint Loma | Claremont | North Park | South Park | Old Town | Balboa ParkEast Village | National City |  Bankers Hill | La Jolla | San Ysidro | Normal Heights | Hillcrest | Little Italy | University Heights | Gaslamp Quarter | Mission Hills | Bay Park | Bay Ho | Pacific Beach | Paradise Hills | Mission Valley  | Torrey Pines | Encinitas | El Cajon

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Visitation

What is Child Visitation?

Child visitation, also referred to as parenting time or access, is an arrangement that allows a non-custodial parent to spend designated periods with their child following a separation, divorce, or custody dispute. It aims to ensure that both parents maintain a meaningful relationship with the child, even if they don’t have physical custody.

Visitation can encompass weekends, holidays, school breaks, and other specific periods as outlined in a court order or parenting plan. The goal is to provide stability and consistency in the child’s life while addressing the needs and best interests of the child.

What is the Difference Between Child Custody and Child Visitation?

Child custody and child visitation are distinct concepts within family law.

Child custody refers to legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody involves the authority to make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody pertains to where the child resides on a regular basis.

Child visitation, on the other hand, involves the non-custodial parent’s right to spend time with the child. It outlines the schedule, duration, and conditions under which visitation occurs.

Custody arrangements are often detailed in a parenting plan, while visitation schedules are typically part of the custody agreement.

How is Child Visitation Determined?

Child visitation arrangements can be established through negotiation between the parents, with the assistance of mediators, or decided by a judge in court.

The primary consideration in San Diego, as in many jurisdictions, is the child’s best interests. Factors such as the child’s age, the parents’ work schedules, the child’s school routine, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of abuse or neglect are taken into account.

Parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan that covers visitation schedules, holiday arrangements, and methods of communication. If the parents cannot agree, the court may intervene and create a visitation schedule based on the information presented and the child’s welfare.

Can Grandparents or Other Relatives Request Visitation Rights?

Yes, under specific circumstances, grandparents and certain relatives can request visitation rights in San Diego.

California law recognizes the importance of maintaining family relationships, and in cases where a child’s parents are deceased, missing, or separated, grandparents and relatives may have the right to petition the court for visitation.

The court will assess whether granting visitation is in the child’s best interests and if the petitioner has a pre-existing relationship with the child.

It’s important to note that these cases can be complex, and legal advice is recommended if a relative wishes to pursue visitation rights.

What Factors Are Considered When Determining Child Visitation Schedules?

When establishing child visitation schedules, several factors are taken into consideration to ensure the child’s well-being. These factors include:

  • The child’s age and developmental stage
  • The child’s school and extracurricular activities
  • The parents’ work schedules and availability
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and their ability to provide care and support
  • The child’s preferences, if age-appropriate
  • Any history of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
  • The parents’ willingness to cooperate and facilitate visitation
  • The court aims to create a schedule that promotes the child’s stability, emotional development, and relationship with both parents.

Can Child Visitation Orders Be Modified?

Yes, child visitation orders can be modified in San Diego, but there must be a valid reason and a change in circumstances to warrant the modification.

Common reasons include changes in the parents’ work schedules, relocation, the child’s age or needs, or evidence of endangerment. To modify a visitation order, the requesting parent must file a petition with the court, providing evidence to support the modification.

The court will evaluate whether the proposed modification aligns with the child’s best interests. If approved, the new visitation order will replace the previous one.

What Happens if One Parent Violates the Visitation Order?

If one parent violates a visitation order in San Diego, the other parent can take legal action to address the issue. They can file a motion for contempt of court, detailing the violation and requesting enforcement.

The court may then take measures to ensure compliance, which can include imposing fines, ordering makeup visitation time, or even modifying the visitation arrangement.

It’s advisable to document any violations, communicate the issue with the other parent, and seek legal guidance to navigate the situation effectively.

Do Parents Have to Follow the Visitation Schedule Exactly as Ordered?

While following the court-ordered visitation schedule is crucial for consistency and stability, flexibility can be exercised when necessary.

Open communication between parents is essential to address unforeseen circumstances, such as illness, emergencies, or changes in plans. When both parents agree, deviations from the schedule can be made without compromising the child’s well-being. However, any substantial or ongoing changes should be officially modified through the court.

Can child custody and visitation arrangements be settled through mediation?

Yes, many child custody and visitation cases in San Diego are resolved through mediation. Mediation involves both parents and a neutral third party mediator working together to create a parenting plan that suits the child’s best interests.

Mediation encourages cooperative decision-making and communication, often resulting in more satisfactory outcomes for both parties. If successful, the proposed plan is submitted to the court for approval and incorporation into the custody order.

Can child visitation be supervised in San Diego?

Yes, supervised visitation may be ordered by the court in San Diego when there are concerns about the child’s safety or well-being during unsupervised visits.

Supervised visitation involves a neutral third party, such as a professional supervisor or a trusted family member, overseeing the interactions between the non-custodial parent and the child. This arrangement ensures the child’s protection while maintaining the parent-child relationship.

Supervised visitation may be required in cases involving allegations of abuse, substance abuse issues, or other circumstances that may pose a risk to the child.