Palo Alto Family Law Attorney

Request a Consultation

Palo Alto family law attorney

Dedicated Family Law Attorneys Serving Palo Alto, CA

Allow The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., to take the weight of a family law matter off of your shoulders with compassionate and confidential legal services you can trust. Our experienced Palo Alto family law attorneys specialize in professional-level, client-focused legal practice. We understand the difficulties surrounding family law issues and will guide you through family law procedures as efficiently and prudently as possible.

Our attorneys will provide the answers and support you need to focus on making logical, objective decisions during emotional turmoil. Let us ease your emotional strain and reduce the difficulty of decision-making that comes with any area of family law, including but not limited to, the following:

Child Support & Family Law Cases in Palo Alto

Parents are legally responsible for the support of their child(ren). Child support is a court-ordered monthly amount to account for the expense of raising a child. Judges determine child support based on state guidelines and mathematical formulas.

Typically, courts calculate child support using both parent’s net income and the amount of time each parent is physically with the child. Child support expenses include such needs as:

  • Monetary support for food, clothing, and shelter;
  • Health insurance;
  • Childcare;
  • Travel costs for visitation; and
  • Extracurricular activities like sports, lessons, and field trips.

A parent must support their child until:

  • The child reaches 18 years old and is a high school graduate (any child who is a full-time high school student or attends part-time due to a medical condition, will continue to receive support); or
  • The child reaches 19 years old; or
  • The child marries, dies, or emancipates.

The court may order both parents to continue to support a disabled adult child if that child cannot support him or herself.

Child Custody & Family Law Cases in Palo Alto

California requires parents to have a parenting plan. Parents may create and agree on a parenting plan themselves, or the court will put one in place for them. Parenting plans detail child custody arrangements and any child visitation and must be in the best interest of the child.

In California, the first factor considered by the court in determining child custody is the child’s best interests. Next, the court examines the child’s age, health, emotional ties, ties to their school and their community, as well as any history of family abuse or neglect.

If the court awards one parent custody, the other parent generally has visitation rights. Visitation orders also depend on the child’s best interests. Child custody and visitation orders are modifiable as a child’s needs or a parent’s circumstances change.

Common Child Custody Schedules in California

When parents can agree on a child custody schedule that works for both parents’ schedules, is fair to both parents, and is in the best interests of the children, they can settle this matter in their divorce agreement without the need for a judge who isn’t familiar with their family dynamic to make this most critical decision for them. Our firm understands the importance of parents making their own decisions for their children and can help to facilitate this ideal by setting up meetings with the other parent and his/her attorney to discuss common California child custody or parenting time schedules based on joint physical custody, or sole custody for one parent with visitation for the other. Some examples to consider include:

  • An alternating weeks schedule which is simple and often best for older children
  • A 3-4-4-3 schedule with 3 days for one parent, followed by 4 days with the other, then 4 days with the first, followed by 3 days with the other, and then repeating. This is best for families with young children so they don’t spend long periods away from each parent. This schedule also gives both parents fair shares of weekdays and weekends with their children
  • Sole custody with visitation arrangements may be the best choice if one parent’s career keeps them exceptionally busy. An arrangement like this typically gives one parent sole custody with the other parent entitled to have their children every other weekend plus one evening per week from after school through dinnertime.

A parenting plan should also include the parent’s goals for holidays and school vacations. Our legal team can help you arrange a detailed plan for child custody that works for your family and will win approval from a judge in your jurisdiction.

Stars Image Helpful and supportive

Debra and team were so helpful and supportive through the most difficult time in my life.  Grateful to the team for their advice – would highly recommend their services to anyone needing a divorce attorney.

J. J. San Francisco

Modifying Existing Orders for Child Support or Spousal Support

Failing to pay court-ordered child support or spousal support can result in a contempt of court motion that brings interest, fines, a bad credit score, and possible jail time. Instead of failing to pay, our family law firm can help those with significant changes in their financial situations to file for a modification of support orders. California courts only consider modifications under the following unforeseeable circumstances:

  • Sudden job loss
  • Significantly lowered earning capacity due to an accident, illness, or disability
  • A change in the number of children supported
  • An ex-spouse who has begun cohabitating with another

While none of the above factors guarantee a judge will sign off on a modification order, they are grounds for the court to review an existing order and consider a modification. A family law attorney can argue aggressively for your case if a sudden significant change in circumstances has made it difficult for you to keep up your support payments.


California is a “no-fault” divorce state. In other words, neither spouse is at fault for the divorce. Instead, parties file for divorce due to irreconcilable differences or an irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

To divorce in Palo Alto, California, one spouse must live in California for six months before filing the divorce action. That spouse must live in the county they file for at least three months. There is an exception for same-sex couples married in California but living in a state that does not recognize same-sex divorce.

There is a mandatory six-month waiting period before a judge grants a divorce.


Mediation is a casual, non-adversarial means to solve divorce issues such as property division, spousal support, child support, child custody, and visitation. Spouses meet together with a mediator in the hopes of creating a fair and agreeable settlement to all of their marital issues. The intention is an open and honest dialogue between spouses.

Mediation for divorce is not mandatory, and either party may leave at any time. However, California requires divorcing parents to attend custody and visitation mediation. A qualified family mediator helps parents create a custody and visitation plan that is in the best interests of the child.

No agreement in mediation is an official until approved by the court. If mediation produces no agreement, the case moves to the courtroom for litigation.


California courts do not presume unwed fathers are the biological parents of their child even if they are on the birth certificate. A mother cannot receive child support without establishing paternity, or the parentage, of her child. A father cannot seek child custody or visitation without doing the same.

When a couple is married, a child is naturally assumed to be a product of the marriage. When parents are unmarried, no such presumption exists. Parentage is established by a person voluntarily signing a declaration stating he is the biological parent or the court determining parentage through a court case.

Once the court grants parentage, a parent’s obligations and rights to a child start, that parent may seek custody or visitation. They are now also legally obligated for the financial support of their child.

Schedule Your Confidential Case Review with The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C.

The Palo Alto Family attorneys at The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., are experienced family law attorneys in Palo Alto, California. This allows us to offer you comprehensive advice in any area of family law, including creative and thoughtful resolutions to your legal concerns. We emphasize quality and integrity in representation.

Our attorneys are accessible to you and conduct consultations in a comfortable, confidential environment. To find out more about the many ways we can help you, call our office today.

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
Arrow Image
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
Arrow Image