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Child Custody & Visitation

San Jose Child Custody Lawyer

If you have children, child custody is probably the most important issue to be decided in your divorce. At The Law Office of Patricia M. McKinnie in San Jose, California, our child custody attorneys spend a great deal of time guiding our clients through the child custody process. This helps to ensure they understand the legal issues being decided so that they can make informed decisions regarding their future and the future of their children. Santa Clara County family law courts offer excellent assistance through family court services to help parents facilitate their custody and visitation arrangements.

In California, two aspects of custody must be decided in every child custody case: legal custody and physical custody.

  • Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding medical care, school, religion, and other important issues. Legal custody is shared in most cases. Therefore, it is important for parents to be capable of making decisions together as co-parents.
  • Physical custody refers to where the child lives and with whom the child spends his or her time. In most cases, physical custody is shared. One parent may have primary physical custody (meaning that the child will live with him or her most of the time) while the other parent will have visitation. When an agreement can be negotiated by the parents, it is possible to create a creative and flexible child custody and parenting schedule that truly meets the needs of the children and the schedules of both parents.

California is concerned with protecting the best interests of the child in all child custody determinations. If child custody and visitation matters cannot be agreed upon in your divorce, California courts will initially order orientation and mediation sessions through family court services. While this is a court process, your lawyer has a role in guiding you through it. During these sessions, you and the other parent can learn how to communicate about divorce/separation issues without involving your children.

Learning effective co-parenting skills — even when divorced or separated — is critically important to health and well-being of your children. Children who are raised by parents who have a hostile relationship can endure long-term psychological effects. Therefore, it is important to carefully contemplate the decision to divorce or separate, and not to simply stay together to "make it easier on the children."


Myth: Moms always get primary custody of the children.

Fact: This is not the case. In divorce cases, where the child has been raised by both parents, it is common for parents to share in both legal and physical custody rights and obligations. In cases involving unmarried parents, during a child's infancy, our lawyers seek brief but frequent visits for the fathers we represent. As the child gets older, visitation should increase and be extended. Our lawyers always look for joint custody of children unless there is an issue of drugs, alcohol, abuse, or other reasons for granting sole custody to one parent.

Visitation Attorneys Helping You Create a Shared Parenting Agreement in Sunnyvale and Throughout Santa Clara County

Our approach as lawyers is to attempt to settle child custody cases rather than litigate them in order to better serve the interests of everyone involved. However, we recognize that to protect your rights as a parent, sometimes it is necessary to proceed with the court process to protect the interests of your child.

Child Custody, Visitation, and Support Modifications

Custody, visitation, and support orders or agreements can be modified when circumstances change. There are specific requirements for pursuing a modification of a family court order. Generally speaking, a material change in circumstances is required for a custody modification (such as when a parent needs to relocate for a job) and a significant financial change of circumstances is required in order to seek an increase or decrease in child support.

Did you know?

  • Child custody and visitation arrangements, as well as child support orders, can be modified later on based on changes of circumstances of the parties.
  • If you are unmarried, you can still have custody and visitation rights, which can be addressed with the assistance of our lawyers in family court.
  • Grandparents, in most cases, have no legal standing to demand visitation rights in California. However, parents can provide for grandparent visitation in their child custody agreement.
  • If the other parent is failing to comply with the terms of a child custody and visitation arrangement, or with a child support order, you can seek court assistance to enforce family court orders.

Free Consultation: San Jose child custody attorney Patricia M. McKinnie offers a free initial consultation up to 30 minutes to discuss your child custody matter. Call (408) 297-2922 or complete our family law case evaluation form.

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31 East Julian Street
San Jose, CA 95112

Phone: (408) 297-2922
Fax: (408) 287-1098

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