San Francisco Child Custody Lawyers

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Skilled And Focused Child Custody Attorneys San Francisco, CA

Child custody and parental visitation are sensitive, critical aspects of family law litigation, and decisions made in that process will have a significant impact on your children and your parenting role. Hiring one of our skilled San Francisco Child Custody Lawyers can help make a difference. 


In California, courts must consider the best interests of the child when hearing child custody and visitation matters. This standard requires the court to weigh various factors such as the level of tension and disagreement between parents. Even the input factors for a child support calculation may be a source of argument between parents who have separated.

Custody and visitation require the knowledgeable, compassionate, and responsive representation that Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., provides.

We Excel At Resolving Complex Custody Disputes

Our experienced lawyers handle custody and visitation matters in connection with divorces and partnership dissolutions, legal separations, annulments, abuse prevention, and parentage actions. We have a successful track record in settling and litigating legally complex, high-conflict matters, such as:

We diligently work toward favorable outcomes for our clients, prioritizing your children’s needs and interests.

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Understanding California Custody Law

California distinguishes between “physical” and “legal” custody. If a parent has “sole physical custody,” the child resides with that parent. The court may issue orders allowing visitation to the parent who does not have physical custody. If the parents have “joint physical custody,” then the child resides with both of them, for a timeshare division that is equal or roughly equal between the parents. A visitation schedule is arranged to define this timeshare.

If a parent has “sole legal custody,” that parent has the exclusive right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare. If the parents share “joint legal custody,” both parents are legally entitled to share in such decisions.

California contemplates that child custody can be assigned in a number of ways:

  • A parent may have sole physical and sole legal custody
  • A parent may have sole physical and joint legal custody
  • The parents may have joint physical and joint legal custody
  • A parent may have joint physical custody and sole legal custody

The state does not presumptively favor any particular custody assignment. The state grants both the court and the family wide discretion to establish a parenting plan that serves the child’s best interests. Pursuant to California law, parents who cannot agree to a child custody agreement must participate in court-ordered
mediation, to try to resolve these issues. Of course, mediation is effective only if each party is willing to compromise. If one or both parties cannot do so, then litigation will be necessary.

California courts differ by county, in terms of whether their mediators operate by confidential or recommending mediation. In confidential mediation counties, the sole purpose of mediation is to attempt to reach a full agreement on the child-related issues, such that the parties will not have to appear before a judge. The parties can also reach a partial agreement, resolving some issues together and leaving the rest for the judge.

In recommending mediation counties, the court will issue a temporary child custody order, based on the mediator’s recommendations as to any issues the parties cannot resolve. The court does not always adopt every recommendation, but judges commonly give weight to mediators’ recommendations. Both parents have a statutory right to a child custody trial, the result of which will be the issuance of permanent orders. It is in your best interest, and that of your children, for you to have an attorney to advise you during mediation and advocate for you during these adversarial court proceedings.

“Debra helped me with my child custody case last year and I could not have received better help or service. She personally attended to my case, sometimes rearranging her other obligations, to make sure my case was handled by her. Thanks to her my child is now thriving in my home. I highly recommend her services!”— C.T.

Knowledgeable Counsel And Effective Representation

Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., effectively counsels parents to agree upon child custody arrangements that serve their children’s best interests. We also provide comprehensive trial experience in contested San Francisco child custody cases. We will advise you through the mediation process, work toward a fair and equitable custody agreement, and, if litigation becomes necessary, aggressively represent you at trial, with compassion for you and your children at the forefront of our minds.

Our legal team can also help you resolve other aspects of custody and visitation, including “move-away” cases; modification of custody orders; establishment or modification of parenting plans; establishment, enforcement or modification of visitation rights; and interstate and international custody disputes. Our exclusive focus on family law in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and the greater Bay Area, together with years of experience handling custody and visitation matters, empowers us with the requisite insight, expertise, and care necessary to represent you in a way that protects your child’s best interests.

Contact Our San Francisco Child Custody Lawyers Today 

To speak with a San Francisco child custody attorney about divorce or domestic partnership dissolution, child custody, and/or related issues, please contact us online, or call us at 415.834.1120.

Our Awards and Memberships

Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., recognizes that family law matters involve complex, sensitive issues that can have a lasting impact on you, your family, your finances and your future.

More About Honors & Awards
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10.0 Avvo Superb Top Attorney Family Law, Divorce
Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal
American Jurist Institute Top 10 Attorneys 2017
2022 Client Satisfaction American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies In the Bay Area San Francisco Business Times
10 Best Female Attorneys 2017 American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
San Francisco Bay Area's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For Winner 2021
2018 Best Lawyers Best Law Firms U.S. News & World Report
California Board of Legal Specialization (CBLS) State Bar of California
2020 Client Champion Debra R. Schoenberg
San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Awards 2019
Expertise Best Divorce Lawyers in Concord 2020
2018 Expertise Best Divorce Lawyers in San Francisco
Fast 100
Lead Counsel Rated
Litigation Counsel of America (LCA) Fellow
National Board of Trial Advocacy
2017 Parents' Press Best of The Bay
San Francisco Business Times
Rated By Super Lawyers Debra R. Schoenberg
The Business of Pride
2021 Best Businesses Three Best Rated
San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Awards & Summit
American Jurist Institute Top 10 Attorneys of 2018
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