Child Custody Attorney / Child Support / Visitation

When children are involved, divorce, custody and visitation rights can become much more complicated.

Even if a divorce ends amicably, the passage of time and changes in living situations can create some lasting scars. That is why it is important to speak with a skilled child custody attorney like the Walnut Creek-based Mendes Law firm to create a child custody agreement that can withstand time and change.

Your Mendes Law, PC child custody lawyer will strive to create an agreement that both parents agree to before the case goes to court, but we are prepared to fight for you if we need to. Because of these complications, the Walnut Creek child custody attorney team at Mendes Law, PC believes that visitation rights and custody should be handled by a lawyer and that you must act quickly and decisively regarding child custody issues around divorce.

Understanding what to expect from the Bay Area child custody courts and agreeing on how to deal with children can make a divorce go much more smoothly.

How We Handle Child Custody Cases

We are hard working, experienced, and caring attorneys.

Our services regarding child custody include:


  • Helping you learn how your unique case may be evaluated by Bay Area and Contra Costa judges.
  • You should understand and be ready to argue for a custody arrangement that makes sense, including the time and place of custody.
  • Do you need to change your custody agreement? If things have changed, we can help you modify your agreement.

Court Principals In Child Custody Cases

An experienced child custody attorney can tell you what to prepare for when heading into court to fight for your children’s well-being.

Here are the common principles followed by Family Courts when it comes to child custody:

  • Your child comes first.
    • The courts will always do what they feel is in the best interest of the child.
    • With years of experience, our child custody lawyers can help you evaluate if sole custody will work or if you can expect a joint custody judgment.
  • Both parents are responsible for the support of their children.
  • Physical or sexual abuse disqualifies anybody from getting custody of a child.
  • Your child’s home must be stable and there should be some guarantee of continuity or no change in the status of the home.
  • The court will not want to separate siblings, nor will it be easy for a custodial parent to move away from the non-custodial parent.
  • A child’s wishes may be considered, but they must be old enough to voice their preferences.

As you consider how the courts will view your case, you should adopt some principles that will help your child deal with divorce, now and after your divorce is complete:

  • Always speak positively about your ex,  regardless of the situation. Your child still has a relationship with him or her and complaints and negative talk will frustrate them and perhaps alienate them from you.
  • Live up to your parental obligations, especially when it means showing up on time and spending time with your children. If your ex does not live up to his or her obligations, don’t complain in front of the children.

Some resources to help you better prepare include those at the county level such as Contra Costa County resources, as well as Child Support, and Spousal Support (Alimony) information.

Child Support / DCSS

Children need the support of both parents to succeed in life.

Your financial support goes toward housing, food, education, clothing, and other necessities. Child support is paid to the custodial parent for the benefit of the child. It is not spousal support.

  • If child support arises from a divorce, it cannot be used as a bargaining chip. It is a non-elective, non-waivable obligation for the child.
  • Child support is not always a direct payment to a custodial spouse. It can come in the form of a payment for tuition or other necessity.
  • There is a formula for child support payments. You can find the Child Support calculator here.

Do you need a consultation on your case? Call Mendes Law, LLP to understand your rights and obligations under California’s laws.

Court Ordered Child Custody Counseling (a.k.a. Mediation)

Many counties require child custody counseling, also referred to as mediation, whenever there is a child custody issue in dispute.  This is a cost-free service, as it is required by the Court. Parties are required to schedule an appointment or may be ordered and scheduled by the Court during proceedings.

Parents generally meet jointly with a child custody counselor during their appointment, however, in cases of domestic violence, a party may be entitled to a separate appointment.  Sometimes the custody counselor will elect to speak with the children, however, attorneys and other third parties are not allowed to attend mediation. Only the parents participate.

Often, orientation is required prior to the actual mediation appointment. Contra Costa County allows you to complete your orientation online.

Commonly, since the Custody Counseling is more impacted than the Court, a custody counseling date is scheduled for after the hearing.

Absent an emergency, it may be ideal to postpone your hearing on custody issues until a date after your custody counseling appointment.  This can help you avoid unnecessary time off work to appear in court and any attorney’s fees associated with an unnecessary appearance.  In Contra Costa County, you may use this form to help you obtain a cost-free continuance in this circumstance.

Reports generated by the custody counselors are heavily considered by the Court when making any custody order.

If you have questions about the Custody Counseling process or need help preparing for an upcoming appointment or hearing, feel free to contact us for some assistance.

Child Custody Resources

superlawyers 2024 badge
Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce logo
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
women in leadership badge
diablo magazine best of the east bay badge

Walnut Creek Office

1990 N. California Blvd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596