Child Custody and Visitation

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If two people have a child together and then decide to live separate lives, among the most difficult decisions they will have to make is how much time the child will spend living with each parent, and how the parents will share and divide their parenting responsibilities.   

In California, it is public policy to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both of their parents after the parents separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship.  (See California Family Code, Section 3020) Opens new window

This section gives you basic information about child custody and visitation.  It tells you about child custody in general, and the way to establish child custody officially and legally.  It talks about why having a parenting plan is good, and helps you understand the legal process.

In this section you will find information about what to do if you are:

It will help you understand what to do:

BEFORE starting a child custody and visitation case

DURING a legal proceeding if you are the parent asking for custody

DURING a legal proceeding if you are responding to a request for custody

AFTER a court case

What if it's an emergency?

This section also has answers for your Frequently Asked Questions about child custody, and information about the forms you will need for your case.

To view some short videos with general information about how California's court system works, click here. Opens new window

To get the information you need to get started, you can use the "drop down" menu at the left side of this page, or you can click on the "Next" button at the bottom of the page.


This website’s general information is very helpful for everyone in California.
To find your county court’s website to learn about extra forms or procedures, click here.


Did this information help you?  Tell us what you think.


If you want help finding what you need, you can email us at virtualselfhelp@contracosta.courts.ca.gov.

You will receive a response within one week.