Child Custody and Visitation

Heather is experienced in all aspects of child custody cases and can help you to establish new custody orders, to enforce existing orders or to modify orders that are no longer workable under the circumstances. She has experience in all types of cases, including those involving move-away issues.

If you are considering divorce or legal separation, it is particularly important to speak with a knowledgeable child custody lawyer about your rights before moving out of the marital home or agreeing to any type of temporary custody arrangement. A temporary child custody arrangement between you and your spouse may have a significant impact on the ultimate custody determination in your case.

Although there has been a recent trend in California toward awarding divorcing parents joint custody of their children, courts still determine custody based upon the "best interests of the child" standard. In most families, both parents want what is in the best interests of their child, but a definition of those best interests may differ from one parent to the other.

Courts consider numerous factors in determining the best interests of the child, including, but not limited to:

  • the age of the child or children. Very young children may not be developmental prepared for a parenting plan in which each parent has equal time.
  • The status quo custody arrangement - this factor can be very influencial.
  • The primary caretaker for the child -- although the courts generally understand that a change in parental roles generally accompanies the separation of parents.
  • Whether one parent is more willing to help the child to maintain a relationship with the other parent.
  • The location of both parents -- geographical distance can make is logistically difficult or even impossible to carry out a true shared parenting relationship.
  • The child's preference (if old enough to express one).
  • The location of the child's school and friends.
  • The child's living environment with each parent.
  • The level of care that each parent is able to give to the child.
  • Parental fitness, including issues of substance abuse or domestic violence.

In California, parents involved in contested child custody proceedings are required to attend Child Custody Recommending Counseling, if they cannot resolve the issues between themselves. This process was created to assist parents unable to resolve custody and visitation on their own, by providing experts who can assist parents in arriving at parenting agreements. In the absence of an agreement between parents, recommending counselors also assist the courts in making the best interest determination, by providing insight and recommendations for the best parenting arrangment for the children. Recommending counseling is not required when parents are able to agree on a custody and parenting issues, but only in the event of disagreement.

Heather Tattershall will work to help parents create manageable solutions when it comes to custody, parenting time and decisions regarding education, medical care and upbringing. Whenever possible, parents are encouraged to negotiate time-sharing arrangements using a cooperative resolution mechanism such as mediation. or Collaborative Practice.

Child Support

In California, the Statewide Child Support Guidelines govern the calculation of most child support obligations. Although the Child Support Guideline is based upon a complex legislatively-mandated calculation, it is most fundamentally based upon the income of both parents and the parenting timeshare.

There are circumstances when establishing an appropriate level of child support may be challenging , and having a knowledgable attorney can be to your advantage. For instance, when one parent is not forthcoming about their actual income (self-employed parents, parents who work in seasonal or cash-paying jobs, or with parents that received a significant portion of their income via bonuses); when a parent receives income from a nontraditional source, or; where one parent is not employed or is underemployed.

Whether the circumstances are complex or standard, Heather Tattershall can help to ensure that support is established at an appropriate level.

Child Support Modification

Generally, once child support is established the payments remain consistent for as long as a legal obligation to provide support exists, subject to a parent's ability to modify support in an appropriate circumstance. A modification of child support may be warranted if the parenting timeshare changes, if your income or the income of the other parent has changed. It is important to investigate the impact of any change that might lead to the modification of a child support order because any modification of support will normally only be effective to the first date a Request for Order is filed with the Court.

If the circumstances under which your current support order was established have changed, the modification of support might be warranted. Heather Tattershall can assist you with your child support modification case

Spousal Support


Temporary spousal support is intended to preserve the family's standard of living while a divorce is pending. Temporary support may be requested by filing a motion with the court at the time of separation. In Northern California, a computer program is often used to help the court establish short-term support.


If your marriage has lasted for 10 years or longer, the court may choose to award permanent support that would last until the death or remarriage of the supported spouse, or until a substantial change in circumstance warrants a modification of the support order.

The court will consider many factors in awarding permanent spousal support, including:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and health of each spouse.
  • The ability of one spouse to pay the other.
  • The length of time that spousal support is needed.
  • The earning potential of each spouse.
  • Whether one party lost earning potential due to time spent raising children.
  • Whether one party contributed to the other party's education or professional license.
  • The tax consequences for each spouse.
  • A history of domestic violence between the parties.

Property Division

Our law firm frequently assists clients in negotiating and settling property division issues without resorting to court intervention; this way spouses can divide their property in the manner they see fit. However, if you and your spouse are unable to agree to an out-of-court division of property, we will aggressively represent your interests at trial. Whatever the nature and extent of your marital or partnership property, we can help you find a division solution that is fair and equitable for you and your spouse or partner.

Marital property division can be extremely complex if the parties are high net worth individuals or share extensive assets such as a family business, real estate holdings, stock portfolios or pension benefits. Heather Tattershall has extensive experience helping clients develop creative solutions to complex property division problems. We regularly work with forensic accountants to uncover co-mingled or hidden assets and conduct reliable business valuations

Step-Parent Adoptions

Heather and her staff can assists your family with all aspects of step-parent adoptions. She will handle the legalities of your adoption, so you can concentrate on your new family.