Protect Your Child's Best Interests with a Child Custody Lawyer

Dad grasping young daughter's handA divorce or separation is always difficult, but it can be a particularly challenging and emotional experience if you have children. 

A family law attorney at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP, can help you reach favorable custody agreements that work in your child's best interests.

When do you need to hire a child custody lawyer?  

Divorce or Separation

If you and your partner are getting a divorce or separation, many aspects of your life will change. You need to consider your child's future and best interests in the matter by hiring a child custody attorney. 

Complicated Case

While some partners are able to negotiate satisfactory child custody agreements on their own, others desperately need the help of a lawyer. If your partner has hired an attorney, you also need legal representation.  

Changing Circumstances

If you already have court-ordered child custody or visitation agreements but are experiencing a major life change, such as a move or sudden illness, you need a lawyer who can help you modify the previous agreement. 

Speak to an Attorney Today

Our team of compassionate attorneys is ready to help you secure a future that puts your child's well-being first. Call us at (209) 477-8171 or request a consultation online to speak with us about your case.

Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation

What can hiring a lawyer do for you? 

Provide Counsel

Throughout the entire process, our attorneys can provide informed, realistic advice for clients who wish to seek primary physical custody or a joint or "shared" custody order. 

Develop a Plan 

We can help develop comprehensive parenting plans and proposals that effectively account for your work and travel schedules, holidays and vacations, and other considerations.

Navigate Complications

If necessary, we can guide you through the complexities associated with custody disputes, including those arising from allegations of abuse or parental alienation.

Why hire the Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP, team?

Each of our named partners has practiced for more than 20 years in their unique areas of practice. Our entire team is dedicated to providing the utmost in attentive service aligned with our clients' most important objectives. Simply stated, Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP, is a firm where results and relationships matter.

If you need to arrange custody agreements, you are not alone...

Millions of Children Are Subject to Custody Agreements

Child custody infograpic

*According to the Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support Report

A lawyer can guide you through the specifics in your state...

Factors That Are Used to Determine Custody in California 

Like most other states, California typically assigns custody and visitation orders based on what is in the best interests of your child. The court will examine: 

  • Your child's age and health
  • The relationship between the parents and child 
  • Your ability to care for your child 
  • Your family history 
  • Your child's connection to his or her community 

Throughout your case, our attorneys will also work towards a favorable resolution for the entire family. 

image of familyIn any divorce or other legal dispute involving children, their best interests must be prioritized. Although parents may agree on this principle and understand that it provides the basis for all court decisions, they often disagree on what child custody and visitation arrangements are right for their unique family situations. A highly knowledgeable child custody attorney at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP, in Stockton, CA, can listen attentively to your concerns and objectives involving your children, before determining the best legal course of action. If you are involved in a divorce, contact our firm today to discuss the details of your situation. 

We have handled numerous challenging cases involving special-needs children, disputes over the parties' actual incomes, and attempts to obtain deviations from the guidelines in high-asset divorce cases.


We approach sensitive child custody matters with balance and compassion. In the vast majority of cases, the best outcome is one that keeps both loving parents actively and closely involved in children's lives. Reaching an amicable child custody resolution or modification can help prevent intervention by the court, litigation fees, and passionately charged decision-making by either party that can result in a variety of negative consequences.

Understanding our clients' needs has allowed us to provide efficient service and sound advice, tailored to the unique needs of our clients. 

Our dedicated team can guide you through all aspects of a child custody case. An attorney who knows you, your family, and your situation can help you quickly make decisions when simple modifications or significant events require legal assistance.


When representing clients as their child custody attorneys, we also recognize how important it is for parents to grasp and plan for the impact of child support orders. While statutory guidelines make establishing child support orders relatively straightforward, we have handled numerous challenging cases involving special-needs children, disputes over the parties' actual incomes, and attempts to obtain deviations from the guidelines in high-asset divorce cases. Our firm is also a resource when circumstances have changed and a child support or custody modification is required.

Caring Attorneys Providing the Support You Need during a Custody Modification

In the years following the creation of a custody or visitation agreement, you may want to make alterations to the arrangement. A significant life change, such as a move, remarriage, or serious medical condition, for example, can prompt a reevaluation. If both parties agree on the changes, you can file a new agreement with the court. However, if you cannot agree, you will need to file a child custody modification and attend mediation or a hearing. Our child custody attorneys at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP, can assist you with this process and work to protect the best interests of both you and your family. Contact our office online or call us at (916) 307-6880 today to learn more. 

When to Change a Custody Agreement

There are a variety of reasons you may seek a modification to an existing custody agreement. However, in order for a judge to agree and alter it, you must be able to prove that a “change in circumstances” has occurred since the custody order was made. These may include:

  • Remarriage
  • A career change
  • A parent’s criminal acts or convictions
  • Relocation
  • A medical condition
  • The death of one parent

Generally, if there is a clear danger to the health or well-being of the child in their current environment, a judge will consider a modification to the custody order. In addition, once a child reaches the age of 14, they are able to request a change to the custody arrangement. 

Modifying a custody order is a complicated process, requiring an advanced understanding of family law. 

Do I Really Need an Attorney?

Modifying a custody order is a complicated process, requiring an advanced understanding of family law. Incomplete paperwork or other missteps can significantly lengthen the time necessary to move forward, often resulting in additional fees. Our attorneys at Shore, McKinley & Conger can support you every step of the way to ensure a beneficial outcome for you and your family. Whether you need help drawing up a new agreement or legal representation during a trial or mediation session, our family law attorneys can help.

How to Request a Custody Modification

Altering an existing custody order is often a complex process, especially if one parent opposes the changes. In California, the steps for changing a custody agreement generally include:

  1. Fill out a Request for Order form: In this document, you can explain your reasoning for requesting the change. You can also fill out a Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment with more detailed information about visits, holidays, and other aspects of the new parenting plan.
  2. Consult a legal professional: Before submitting any forms, have an attorney from our firm or a family law facilitator review your paperwork.  
  3. Make copies: After providing the original document to the court, you will need to retain one copy and provide your child’s other parent with one as well.  
  4. File your forms: The court clerk will keep the original and return the two copies to you with an official “Filed” stamp. You will have to pay a fee for filing. 
  5. Receive a court or mediation date: The court clerk can tell you whether you need to attend a mediation session before the court date.
  6. Serve your papers: A third party must serve the other parent with a copy of your papers, as well as a Responsive Declaration to Request for Order form before your court date. You may need to serve other documents as well. 
  7. File your Proof of Personal Service: Your server will fill out this document so you can file it with the court. If you served your papers by mail, you will need a Proof of Service by Mail form instead.
  8. Attend all necessary appointments: Many judges will require you and the other parent to attend mediation and discuss your parenting plan. If you cannot reach a decision, you will need to attend a hearing before a judge. 

Before signing off on any custody modifications, the judge will consider all aspects of the decision and determine whether the changes are in the best interests of the child or children. 

Protect Your Visitation Rights during Child Custody Cases

In the case of separation or divorce, parents must establish child custody and visitation rights. These serve to establish the role each parent will play in their child's life, including where the child will live, how the child will be raised, and how often the child will see each parent. If you do not have physical custody of your child, you are typically entitled to visitation rights. To ensure you receive the time you deserve with your child, it is important to have the right representation on your side. Our legal team at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP is an invaluable resource for parents struggling with child custody and visitation rights. To learn more about how a visitation attorney can help, contact us today.

California Visitation Laws

Visitation laws dictate how parents will spend time with their children after divorce. A parent may be granted physical or legal custody of any children. Physical custody dictates where the child will live, and legal custody relates to the child's upbringing. Parents who do not have physical custody of their child, also known as noncustodial parents, are often granted visitation rights. There are three forms of visitation:

  • Scheduled visitation: The court establishes a visitation schedule to prevent conflicts between parents. This details the days and times that the child will be with each parent. 
  • Reasonable visitation: This order is more flexible than scheduled visitation. It does not specify when children need to be with each parent and allows parents to create their own schedule.
  • Supervised visitation: If the child's well-being is in question, visits may be supervised by a third-party. This may be the case if the child and parent have not seen each other for an extended period of time. Supervised visitation can also be requested if one parent is suspected to have a drug or alcohol problem or a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness. The court can determine the time and place of these visits, as well as the supervising party.

In the case that a parent poses an imminent threat to a child or demonstrates abusive tendencies, a judge may relinquish all visitation rights to protect the best interests of the child.

Establishing Visitation Rights

If you are a noncustodial parent already involved in a family law case, you must prepare and file a motion for visitation. You can then present this motion to the presiding judge, provided you and the other parent agree upon the visitation request. Noncustodial parents must be up-to-date on their child support obligations when a visitation request is filed. 

We work closely with parents to achieve visitation agreements that complement their family dynamics and protect the best interests of their children.

If you are not involved in a family law case, we can initiate one. We can file a petition on your behalf to establish custody and child support obligations. If the case is initiated by the father, we must first establish paternity. You must also provide proof that you are satisfying your child support obligations. 

Modifying a Visitation Order

Families are likely to go through numerous changes in the years before the child turns 18, especially if the child is very young at the time of the divorce or separation. Some changes that may require a modification of your visitation order include the relocation of a parent or an inability to meet the requirements of the existing visitation order. The parent who files for a modification must prove circumstances have changed, making the previous order unsustainable. Again, the court will make a decision based on the child’s best interests.

Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP

Our firm has been representing clients in a wide range of practice areas for over 20 years. We are trusted across generations and are recognized by various prestigious organizations, including: 

  • Martindale-Hubbell® 
  • American Bar Association 
  • Consumer Attorneys of California 

Our team is ready to assist in most legal challenges that you may encounter throughout your lifetime. To schedule a consultation, call us at (209) 477-8171 or contact us online

Legal team at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP