San Joaquin County Superior Court
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Definition of Common Terms

Dissolution
Better known as divorce, divides the assets and debts of a couple, determines custody and visitation and child and spousal support, and returns the parties to status of unmarried.
Joint Custody
This means both joint legal and joint physical custody. Parents agree to share it all.
Joint Legal Custody
Both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Joint Physical Custody
Children spend a significant amount of time with each parent.
Legal Custody
The right and responsibility of parents to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Legal Separation
Divides the assets and debts of a couple, determines custody and visitation and child and spousal support, but leaves the parties legally married.
Mediation
A process in which parents are provided a neutral setting to meet together and work out an agreement about custody and visitation issues that are in the best interests of their children.
Mediation Orientation
An orientation is held every Wednesday in Department F-2 at 3:30p.m. These are informal sessions which all adults are welcome to attend. A mediator will explain what will happen in court, what your rights are, and answer your questions about custody, and visitation. No appointment is necessary.
Mediator
An employee of the court who is a skilled professional with extensive clinical experience in the fields of psychology, marriage, family and child counseling, or social work. They are trained in conflict resolution.
Nullity
Restores the parties to the status of not having been married.
Parenting Plan
An agreement between the parents that spells out the specific details of custody and visitation arrangements for their children.
Paternity
Proceeding to establish who is the father of a child, or to establish the fact of a father-child relationship.
Physical Custody
How much time the children spend with each parent, where the children live, how day to day responsibilities are fulfilled.
Restraining Order
Proceeding to obtain court orders to protect a person from physical violence from a family member, or a person with whom they have lived or had a dating relationship.
Sole Legal Custody
One parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Sole Physical Custody
Children reside primarily with one parent and have visitation with the other parent.
Supervised Visitation
Visitation limited to special situations where a third party, specified by the court, is present. Supervised or monitored visitation may occur when there is a need to protect children because of substance abuse, child abuse or neglect, family violence, or other serious problems, or when children are getting to know a previously absent parent.
Visitation
Times when one parent has the children and is fully responsible for them.
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