California allows family court judges to make legally binding orders setting forth who will have legal and physical custody of a child. That order must be observed until such a time as it is altered or superseded by a new order. It is common for parents and other custodial individuals to renegotiate the terms of their child custody every two or three years.
Parents in California who split up will likely need a parenting plan, also known as custody and visitation agreement. Parenting plans cover important issues involving child custody, such as an agreement when children are with which parent as well as details for how decisions will be made about children's welfare, education and other aspects of their lives. A parenting plan is more likely to be beneficial if it is comprehensive and well thought out.