You may be familiar with the term visitation, which is still often referenced in the media or by the public. However, you may not be familiar with the current vernacular, parenting time, which is what California and other states have begun using in recent years to describe co-parenting arrangements between divorced or legally separated parents.

Under California law, parenting time describes the parenting arrangement, either ordered by the court or agreed by the parties. While the children generally live with one parent on a full time basis under this arrangement, the other parent generally has the right to have the children in his or her care for what may be substantial periods of time.

The non-custodial parent is also usually entitled to take children on trips and share holiday celebration time. In some cases, if the court feels that a parent is a danger to the child, parenting time may be refused or restricted to supervised visits. This is especially true in cases involving drug abuse, sexual abuse or domestic violence. In these cases, the court can refuse parenting time, or require that your visits with your children be supervised by a court appointed third party.

Regardless of whether your divorce is amicable or not, it is vital to obtain the services of a qualified family law attorney to protect your right to spend time with your children. This is important if you intend to remain a part of your child's life if you were not awarded shared custody of the children. If your parenting time has been restricted or denied by a court, your attorney may be able to help you get those restrictions lifted by arguing that your circumstances have changed.

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