Child Custody / Visitation

One of the most emotional and challenging issues for parents that are getting divorced or legally separated is determining which parent should have custody of the child(ren). A visitation schedule may also be necessary to allow your children to spend time with each of you after you and the other parent are no longer living under the same roof. Child custody and visitation agreements can be delicate matters to negotiate, and the San Jose Divorce Attorneys at Mello & Pickering, LLP can help you reach a child custody order or visitation agreement that works for your family.

In California, there are two types of custody: “physical custody” and “legal custody.” In most cases it is appropriate that both parents share “joint legal custody.” This means that both parents are entitled to make decisions about the child’s welfare, lifestyle, education, medical care, and well-being. In some circumstances, one parent may wish to petition the court for sole legal custody, so that they alone have the right to make decisions on behalf of the child.

“Physical custody” refers to the location where the child primarily resides. If both parents are involved in the day-to-day care of the children, they will likely share “joint physical custody.” In other cases, where the children will primarily live with one parent, that “primary” parent will be given sole physical custody and the other parent will have visitation rights.

If parents are unable to work out the terms of the custody arrangement by agreement, the court will do it for them. Either way, a judge must approve the terms of the agreement. While a permanent custody agreement is being worked out, or, in the event that one parent contests the order, a judge will issue temporary custody/visitation orders. In the event that the other parent refuses to honor your child custody agreement, we are prepared to take your dispute to court where we will fight for your rights.


A child visitation order determines the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights. In some cases, it is adequate to have a “reasonable” visitation schedule, which allows parents to work out the visitation together without a detailed schedule. There will be instances, however, when it is necessary to set up a detailed visitation schedule that includes the times and places for visitation.

Modification and Enforcement of Child Custody / Visitation Orders

A court will usually only modify a child custody/visitation order if he or she finds that changing the terms of the custody order will benefit the child and that circumstances have changed significantly from the date of the last court order. Mello & Pickering, LLP will help you with your request for modification of child custody/visitation. We will also take legal action to enforce an order if the other parent doesn’t adhere to the custody or visitation terms.

Move-Away Cases

In the event that the custodial parent wishes to move away with the children, a hearing will take place to determine whether this is the right decision for the kids. The outcome of this decision is very important, as it could affect the amount of time a child is able to spend with the non-custodial parent. We have helped many clients file move-away petitions and we have filed many actions to prevent move-away orders. If the court grants the move-away order, we will assist you in obtaining a visitation schedule that allows you to spend as much time as possible with your son or daughter.

Grandparent Rights and Visitation

When a child’s parents separate or when either parent dies, his or her relationships with extended family members and the amount of time they can spend with them may change dramatically. Grandparents may petition a court to enforce their rights to visitation, and the court may be inclined to grant the request if cultivating the grandparent-grandchild relationship is in the child’s best interest.

Decisions regarding child custody and visitation can irrevocably affect your child and his or her relationships with both parents and other family members. Mello & Pickering, LLP will advise you of your options and help you with all matters related to your child custody or visitation case.

Mello & Pickering, LLP was founded by law partners Jennifer Mello and Traci Pickering, two family law attorneys who practice exclusively in this field and who are dedicated to providing their clients with the best quality legal representation and the utmost care and attention. Please call us at (408) 288-7800 to schedule an initial consultation or write us an e-mail.

Mello & Pickering, LLP has helped parents and their children work out their child support, child custody, and child visitation matters in Palo Alto, Gilroy, Saratoga, Morgan Hill, Campbell, Los Altos, San Jose, Mountain View, Milpitas, Santa Clara, and Menlo Park, as well as in other cities in Santa Clara County. Mello & Pickering, LLP is conveniently located in San Jose, California.

Mello & Pickering, LLP explicitly disclaims all liability related to actions performed or not performed based on any or all of the content on this Web site. View our Disclaimer page for more information.

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