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What's the Difference Between Custody and Visitation Featured Image

What’s the Difference Between Custody and Visitation?

When a married couple decides to get separated, they have to make a lot of decisions regarding various things, such as money, assets, debts, businesses, etc.

But even more difficult is dividing the children’s time between the mother and father. While they have nothing to do with divorce, for a child, both are equally important.

In this regard, there are custody and visitation rules in Canada. But many people become get confused between these two terms. If you are one of them, then this blog is for you.

This article is especially for those parents who are thinking of getting divorced. It is important that you have a good grasp of these two terms as it will help you to ensure that all your parental rights are well-protected.

Here you’ll learn what’s the difference between custody and visitation and the necessary detail.

So, What is Custody?

Custody is the legal obligation to take in the full responsibility for the care and control of a child until s/he reaches the age of adulthood. The judge may give the custody to either one parent or split it between both to take care of things jointly.

There are two kinds of custody: legal and physical custody.

Legal Custody

With this custody, you will get the full authorization and sole power to take all the big decisions in your child’s life. Such as where to enroll your child, which religion s/he will follow, medical expenses and care, etc. In a word, your take will be the final and last one unless it hampers the safety protocols of your child.

In most cases, parents sharing legal custody don’t usually share physical custody. However, if one parent is not a full time parent, it is still better to include them while making some important decisions, especially in case of an emergency.

Physical Custody

This form of custody directly deals with whom the child will stay on a day-to-day basis. In other words, the parents who have physical custody will have the child to live with them. But this custody doesn’t mean having the entire sole custody to oneself.

Instead, based on a mutual agreement, both the parents can fix a time and do the sharing. In most of the cases, the family courts order for a joint physical custody if it is completely safe for the child.

Here, there are usually no time limitations as long as both the parents mutually agree on the split up. For instance, one child can stay with one parent throughout the week while during the weekend with the other parent.

For this kind of scenario, if there is an understanding between both the parents, then things will certainly work out much smoother than expected.

However, in case there is conflict, and they can’t arrive at a common decision, then they can opt to the court to get help regarding the parenting plan schedules.

What is Meant by Visitation?

Visitation refers to the parenting time given to the non-custodial parent. This mainly occurs when a parent gets the sole physical custody while the other parent only reserves the right to pay regular visits.

Here, the non-custodial parent will be given a visitation schedule along with specific dates, hours, and locations of the visit with their child.

Both the parents have to comply with the visitation hours schedule strictly. Otherwise, an imbalance will be created, which indirectly will affect the child.

In most cases, visitation agreements are made by both the parents if they are on good terms and don’t want to stretch things any more by thinking about the child.

However, if both the parents cannot arrive at a common ground, then ultimately, they will have no other option but to take the court’s help in fixing the formal visitation arrangements.

In case of exceptional cases, supervised visitations are ordered. Meaning, if one parent poses a threat to the child, then considering the safety and welfare of that child, supervised visitation will be applied. This happens only in the rare cases and can be changed to an unsupervised one anytime if everything goes well.

What’s the Difference Between Custody and Visitation?

Many people tend to mix up this thing between these two terms. However, in reality, both of them refer to two different situations and are not interchangeable under any conditions.

After going through the definition, you have certainly understood that both these terms are totally different. Custody involves who will et the power and with whom the child will get to stay. On the other hand, visitation refers to the non-custodial visiting hours and schedules s/he will get to spend with their child.

Starting from the hours allocated to where the visits will take place and if they will be supervised by any other adult or not – everything of this visitation will either be fixed by both of the parents or determined by the court.

Here, unlike the legal and physical custody, the visitation doesn’t permit a parent to take part in any major decision-making about the child, even if it is for their betterment. It can be anything from education to medical care.

In fact, to decide anything about your own child’s life, you have to either have sole or shared legal custody after the separation. Besides, for any kind of overnight stay or extension of the hours, you need to take permission from the custodial parent or the court. If they approve, it will only be applicable, and vice-versa.

Closing Notes

That’s all regarding the discussion from “What’s the Difference Between Custody and Visitation?”

Getting divorced is indeed a tough thing, but it is an even more difficult task if you have children associated with it. After all, both their mother and father hold equal importance in their lives. It’s not something that is once done is done forever as like with any other property.

Property or assets distribution is one thing, and taking such a decision regarding your child is one of the toughest situations a parent can possibly find themselves in.

That’s why every parent must give a thorough consideration while taking the final call for the betterment of their child. If needed, have a one-to-one session with an experienced lawyer to reach a mutual agreement.


Take a look at the below most asked queries regarding custody and visitation in case you have any confusion to clear up:

Do I have the right to know who my child is around?

Of course, you have the full right to know about your child’s whereabouts as a custodial parent. In fact, if the non-custodial parent doesn’t want to disclose or refuses to say anything about the child’s location, then it will be considered a violation of the order. And for any such kind of activity, the other parent can take strict action against them in the court.

When can you deny the visitation to the non-custodial parent?

The court bans the visitation of the non-custodial parent if they find them to pose a threat to the child’s life. Such as, the parent has a previous record of molesting or abusing the child both physically or mentally, s/he is a complete drug addict and doesn’t stay in their own senses.

So, naturally, if any tracks of such incidents are found, the court will certainly restrict the visitation without any second delay.

What happens when a child refuses to go with a parent?

If a child refuses to pay a visitation with their co-parent, then as the main guardian, you must find out the reason behind it. In case it directly concerns their safety or welfare by any means, then you must contact with an experienced family lawyer instantly to take the next step. But if the reason doesn’t affect their safety, a child must attend visitations, if required, can take you or any other adult as a supervisor.