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Child Custody/Visitation

Types of Custody Orders

Types of Visitation Orders

Residential Requirements

Child/Visitation Order Without Filing for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation

Establish/Modify/Change Orders

Child Custody Recommending Counseling

Emergency/Temporary Orders


Filing Procedure


Custody and Support Packet Cover Sheet

Parental Relationships Packet Cover Sheet

Representing Yourself

Return to the Family & Children Main Page

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Custody of Children

Legal Custody:  Legal custody determined which parent will make decisions concerning the child’s or children’s heath, safety, education, and welfare.  One parent can make these decisions alone, which is known as sole legal custody or both parents retain the right to make these decisions, known as joint legal custody.  Joint legal custody means both parent should cooperate and decision-making, but that either parent has the power to make decisions alone.  Sole legal custody means only one parent can make decisions and obtain information from the child’s or children’s school and doctor, for example.

Physical Custody:  Physical custody determines where the child or children will reside.  Sole physical custody means that the child or children live with one parent and visit the other parent.  Joint physical custody means the child or children reside with both parents.  In the case of joint physical custody, if one parent will have the child more than half of the time, then that parent can be called the “primary custodial parent” for tax and other purposes.

Visitation of Children

Unsupervised Visitation:  The parent who does not have the child or children more that have of the time is entitled to visitation with the child or children.  Visitation plans should be specific in order to avoid potential conflicts and eliminate confusion.  In developing a specific visitation plan, keep in mind that it can be helpful to be specific about which weeks of the month visitation will occur to make the plan more enforceable.  For example, if a parent has the child or children ever other weekend, it would be helpful to define that specifically as the 1st, 3rd, and 5th (or the 2nd and 4th) weekend.  The pick-up and drop-off times should also be specific, such as Friday at 6:00 pm to Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Supervised Visitation:  This option is used when the child’s or children’s safety and well-being require visits with the other parent be supervised by you, another adult, or a professional agency.

No Visitation:  This option is used in extreme situations in which contact with the parent would be physically or emotionally harmful to the child.

Residential Requirements

If you already have a case open in Kings County, you may not necessarily need to be concerned with residency requirements.  However, if your case is in another county or state, there are special rules regarding your custody orders.  Depending upon where the other parent resides, among other considerations, you may be able to move your entire case to Kings County.  If you are from another state, you may want to register your out-of-state order in Kings County under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act for the purposes of enforcement, and possibly, modification.  Before considering any of these actions, it is recommended that you seek legal advice regarding this very technical area of the law.

Child/Visitation Order Without Filing for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation

The Petition for Custody and Support of the Minor Children is used in very limited circumstances (Judicial Council form FL-260).  You may only use this method of obtaining custody and support orders if there is no other case that has been filed anytime, anywhere regarding the children of this relationship.  You may file this petition if you are married to the other parent and do not wish to file for a divorce, legal separation, or nullity, or you are not married to the other parent and you and the other parent have signed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity regarding each child.  Be aware that if you are married to the other parent and later decide that you would like to file a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, you will have to file a new case and pay another filing fee.  After the Petition is filed, you may proceed as you would in any other case where you are asking for custody and support orders.

Establish/Modify/Change Orders

After an action for dissolution, legal separation, nullity, or paternity has been filed in court, you may proceed with filing the necessary paperwork to obtain orders to establish child custody, visitation, and/or support.   Packets of forms are available at any one of the Kings County clerk’s offices.  The clerk’s office is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Thursday and on Friday 8:00am - 11:30am excluding court holidays.

If you wish to make a request for court to modify an existing order, you must file the appropriate “Notice of Motion” or “Order to Show Cause” paperwork with the court.  The Order to Show Cause Packet is $15.00. The Notice of Motion Packet is $10.00.

Emergency/Temporary Orders

In Family Law cases, court orders can be obtained only after the appropriate paperwork is filed, a hearing is scheduled, and notice of hearing is served on the other party allowing him/her sufficient time to file a response.  These hearings occur in open court in front of a judge.  In limited situations, where there is an emergency, the judge may grant a Temporary Order to be in effect only until the hearing in open court.  A Temporary Order is only issued to deal with an emergency that cannot wait for the normal hearing process.

Requires 24 Hours’ Notice

To obtain a temporary order, the proposed restrained person must be notified of the hearing you just requested. Someone other than you not involved in this action and over the age of 18 must notify the other party of the date, time, and location of the ex-parte hearing by 10:00 am the day prior to the hearing.  The notification may be done personally or by telephoning the other party.

The person who provides the notice must also file a declaration with the court, prior to the hearing, that they notified to other party of the ex-parte hearing.  The declaration must include:

  • The name of the person who provided the notice; that they are over 18 years of age; and not a party to the pending action.

  • The name of the person they notified (this must be the proposed restrained order)

  • How the notice was provided

  1. If someone call the proposed restrained person on the telephone (include the telephone number called); or

  2. If someone personally told the proposed restrained person (include the address at which the information was given)

  • The time and date the notification was provided.

  • What information was provided regarding the hearing to the proposed restrained person, for example~ the time, date, and location of the hearing.

  • The declaration must also contain the following language immediately before the signature line, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing it true and correct.

  • Date and sign the declaration

The notice must be given in all cases unless it is established that there will be an immediate threat of danger or harm if notice is given.  This can be established only in rare cases.  It is the general policy of the Family Law court that judges do not make temporary orders unless both sides have had an opportunity to be heard.

For assistance with your paperwork, you may see the Family Law Facilitator (during his posted hours) or seek the advice of an attorney. Click here to see the Family Law Facilitator's schedule.


An Order to Show Cause packet is available for $15.00 at any one of the clerk’s offices within the County.

Filing Procedure

Family Law documents may be filed in person or by mail.  You must reserve a hearing date in advance of filing any documents.

All documents presented for filing must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Pleadings will not be filed unless they comply with the California Rules of Court, Rule 2.100 et seq., which requires that all documents presented for filing be legible and either typed or printed.

  • No conformed copies of documents will be returned by mail unless a self-addressed stamped envelope, with sufficient postage is provided.

  • All papers presented for filing must be pre-punched in the standard two-hole position at the tip of the document.

  • A copy will only be confirmed if it mirrors the original document.

  • Only 3 copies of each document will be conformed.

  • Advance reservations are required for all pleadings requiring a hearing date.

  • Filings paid with checks that are returned for non-sufficient funds be void if not paid by cash or certified check/money order within 20 days of notification (411.20 Code of Civil Procedure).

There is a fax filing agency that is approved to submit papers to the court through the use of a fax.  You may contact Official Payments Corporation at 800.487.4567 for more information.


For Family Law filing fees or other court filing fees, please click here.

NOTICE:  If you are unable to pay fees and costs, you may ask the court to permit you to proceed without paying them.  You will need to complete a Request to Waive Court Fees (FW-001) and an Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court - FW-005) by clicking on the above blue highlighted links or you may ask the clerk for a copy of  these forms. They are available at no cost.  

Representing Yourself

If you have decided to represent yourself, you have taken on the responsibility of knowing the procedures and timelines in relating to your paperwork and appearances in court.  You may want to learn about the rules you must follow in the Family Code, Code of Civil Procedure, the Kings County Local Rules, as well as the California Rules of Court. You can find those resources in the Kings County Law Library or click on the above blue highlighted links.  You can also purchase the Local Rules for $10.00 from the clerk’s office.



Superior Court of California, Kings County
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