When you separate or divorce from a marriage or domestic partnership where there are children involved, you and your partner will need to decide on who will have custody of your children and how they will be taken cared of now that your relationship has ended. Visitation rights (sometimes called 'timeshare') will also need to be determined which will put into effect a sort of schedule for spending time with the children.
There are two kinds of custody orders; legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody is when the judge will assign one parent are the main caretaker and this parent will make all important decisions for the child such as education, health care and welfare decisions.
Physical custody determines who the child will live with.
The judge will also determine the visitation orders which will establish a schedule for how both parents will spend time with the children.
In Orange County, California, either parents are able to have custody or the judge may decide to have both parents share custody. The judge will have the final word about custody and visitation rights but if both parents approve a certain prearranged schedule that they have worked out, then the judge will usually agree upon it.
On the other hand, if the parents cannot agree, there will be court hearing arranged and the judge will make the conclusive decision which usually will not be finalized until both parents have met with a Family Court Services Mediator.