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Lawyer specializing in divorce/family law
I am considering divorce and need an attorney to consult regarding the particulars. I
don't think there will be any dispute in court over property or custody, but my spouse
does not want this divorce at all. I have never been through this nor do I have divorced
friends so I don't have any idea how to choose a lawyer or whom to choose. Any recs,
preferably female and in Oakland appreciated.
I recommend Mark Wurtzel. He is a good man, a good lawyer, does NOT get mean,
gets the task done efiiciently. He can be reached at (415) 291-9800.
Divorce lawyer in Alameda County
As of this morning, I am looking for a good lawyer to handle a divorce and
custody case in Alameda County. If cool heads prevail, this will be
amicable(ish). I'd be very grateful for recommendations for a good lawyer or
mediator who can guide us through this unpleasant but necessary process.
sad but fairly clear-headed
Hello. First, I'm sorry to hear about your divorce, as I know it can be a
difficult time. My parents divorced when I was a young adult. Luckily, they
did their best to be amicable, and that really helped the situation for all of
us. So, I think it is great that you two are trying for that.
I can recommend
a superb attorney in Pleasanton who handles cases in Alameda county and Contra
Costa Counties. His name is Kennedy Koblin, at the Koblin Family Law Center.
He has been handling my custody case for 2 years. He is knowledgeable,
experienced, compassionate and down-to-earth. I believe he would be a good fit
for the kind of situation you describe, in part because he is not an ''over-
litigating bleed-everyone-dry shark'' type - and by this compliment, I mean
that he is really great about explaining your options and soliciting your (the
client's) input as far as what your desired outcome is, while at the same time
being conscious and aware of the particulars of each of his cases and then
taking definitive action when warranted. He is a great negotiator and has a
very relaxed, commanding presence in court, and will always be completely frank
and honest with you. His associate Julie O'Connor is also wonderful, and I
recommend her as well for the same reasons. They often work together as a team
on many cases. Their schedule is usually pretty full but they do take on new
cases when possible, so I would suggest just giving them a call. Phone number
is 925-298-4808, and the website is www.familylawpleasanton.com . Best wishes
Happy and satisfied client
Divorce/custody lawyer with Domestic Violence experience
My family law lawyer just started a new job, and is no longer working on my case.
I'm looking for someone else to help me, immediately. It is a contentious
divorce/custody case (our daughter is 23 months old), and though it is not
classified as domestic violence, I believe that it is emotional abuse. I am
looking for someone with DV experience. I am also looking for someone who can work
with someone with a mental health diagnosis. My lawyer charged $200 per hour. Any
need legal help
I used Rachel Ginsburg almost 7 years ago in a custody/DV case. She was timely,
professional, advised me fairly and is the person who suggested I go to family
court via the DV court. I have first hand knowledge that she can do this. I was
so scared of my son's father that I was afraid to meet him in person for
arbitration. She gave me a voice when I was too meek to have one myself. Like
you, I wasn't sure how my case would fit into a DV case, because I was never
physically struck. But I assure you she is wonderful in this situation. I was
able to get a restraining order but also allow for visitation. He was not
allowed to harass me, but only contact me about visitation. Years later when we
reconciled she also handled changing the agreement without ever having to meet
in her office. My son was about 3 years-old when all this happened and 8 when we
changed the agreement. He is 11 now and if I ever had to go back to court again
she would be the first person I would call.
Rachel D. Ginsburg 1970 Broadway
(between 19th St & 20th St)
Oakland, CA 94612
DV experienced mama
Divorce Attorney needed - or chance for mediation?
I am trying to avoid a high-conflict distructive divorce, but I am not sure if my spouse has the
Communication is not our strong suit and my spouse is rather angry and aggressive. We have a
special needs child and do not agree on daily routines and treatment.
I have suggested mediation and got ''I will think about it'' as a response - 2 months ago.
I suggested discussing arrangements and got: ''I am not ready yet'' as a response.
Question 1: Will a mediation help with this, or does this basically exclude mediation? Responses
from mediators would be appreciated.
Question 2: Do you have a recommendation for a mediator who can handle a situation like this?
We kind of agreed to announce and change living arrangements after summer break, in September. I
feel I need to better understand my rights and prepare myself for understanding legal
implications of different scenarios.
I have read through the vast recommendations for lawyers and also about mediators. I do not want
a 'shark' for an attorney, but rather somebody who can provide me with strategies how to approach
and how to ask for what I want. Custody arrangements are my biggest concern as I think a weekly
change of routines will do more damage than necessary.
Any recommendations for an attorney who is not primarily concerned with getting the most $ out of
the case and prolong the legal battle?
I live in Berkeley and would like somebody as close as possible.
It's been 10 years, oh no, 13 years, since i first contacted Mark Wurtzel who is
at (415) 291-9800.
He is in SF, but most work is over the phone and he lives in the east bay. He
is awesome. A reasonable man, calm, not a shark, not a wimp... yet a good
lawyer who understands the challenges people face with uncommunicative and
uncooperative spouses. My former spouse hired a shark who threatened to break
me... Mark explained the law, the rules, etc... eventually spouse fired their
attorney and Mark and I presented a settlement (custody, $, etc.) that followed
the guidelines of the courts that was reasonable. Spouse flaked on their
commitments, so Mark and I went to court and had support adjusted to reflect my
99% custody... blah blah blah.
Good luck and take care of yourself and your child.
My Ex and I used Marcy Sharafian to do our MSA for our divorce. Marcy works out of the
East Bay. I love her! She is calm, smart, steady very funny and can ride through even
the toughest mediation sessions. We had a very difficult contentious divorce and Marcy
was able to calm us both down when things got very heated. She is also very fair and
will show you both sides of each situation she will tell you Ca Law and then give you
options of how to handle in mediation. The thing I loved the most about working with her
is that she was very accessible I could call or text her late at night or on the
weekends and she would always get back to me and be there to help. When you are going
through a divorce quite often things come up after hours and Marcy will jump in in a
pinch and help out. I could not have gotten through the process with out her. She
relates equally well to both men and women. I have sent many of my friends to her and
they all love working with her. Please email back if you have any other questions. I
can't say enough good about her and her wisdom. you can reach her at 925-408-1736.
Ultra-Cheap Divorce Lawyer for friend
Hello, All. I am writing on behalf of a dear friend who is going through a very
nasty separation. My friend's husband moved out of the family home about a year
and a half ago, leaving my friend as the sole caretaker of their two children.
He recently lost his job, so he is not contributing anything financially (he was
paying her a paltry sum before, but at least it was something). My friend has
her own business and does okay, but she does not make enough to support the
family entirely on her own. She has so much to contend with, but the two main
issues are as follows: 1) she has no health insurance for herself or her
children and makes too much to qualify for Medicare and 2) she is in need of a
divorce lawyer (NOT a mediator as her husband is really shirking his parental
duties and needs to be held responsible), but has no money. She is in the middle
of claiming bankruptcy due to her soon-to-be-ex husband's reckless spending, so
that should help her a little bit with monthly expenses - - but not enough. She
has really been through hell for the past couple of years, yet she tries to
remain positive for the sake of her children. She is on anti-
anxiety meds, but is running out due to her lack of insurance. I am able to help
her a bit financially, but not entirely. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Desperate to Help
Your friend has several options of getting help. The DA office has a family
support division that seeks payments from the non-custodial parent. She can also
file for support on her own. Does she know his income?
Someone posted recently about a woman in Alameda who is an 'expert' at filling
out the paperwork for a do-it-yourself divorce. She is not an attorney.
I can't find her name in the archives, and I would GREATLY appreciate her name.
Divorce with Dignity, Cindy is AWESOME! The divorce was so easy AND she did
wills for me a few years later. Highly recommended.
Divorce With Dignity-Alameda, 1151 Harbor Bay Parkway, Ste. 126B, 510-522-2600
Strong divorce lawyer in Contra Costa County
I am looking for a referral for a strong divorce attorney in Contra Costa County
for a very difficult situation. I have been a housewife for the past 18 years,
have 3 young kids, and have very limited financial resources. My husband has
left the house and has not provided any support for the children. I will be
seeking full custody. Any recommendations or advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Gary Sparks in Walnut Creek. Very solid, knowledgeable guy. Best of luck to
To ''looking for strong divorce attorney'' give Dominic Porrino a call. He's a
partner at Hilliard & Porrino. His office is in Oakland but he handles cases in
CC County. His specialty is child support and child custody cases. His # is (510)
653-8886. Good luck.
Both Fox & Bank and Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Able are both excellent family law
firms in Contra Costa. As a heads up, California law is unfriendly to single
parent custody except in very extreme circumstances. You will want to discuss
options with your lawyer.
I am so sorry that you are going through this. I know how awful it is - I am in
the middle of a divorce myself.
I live in Contra Costa County as well. Let me suggest you talk to Rachael Zeiph
in Pleasant Hill:
I am using Erin Levine of Levine Law Group in Emeryville and really like her. She
is covered by my legal insurance, so that is why I'm not using someone locally. I
do most of my meetings with her by phone, which is convenient.
And let me also recommend to you a great workshop on divorce that I just started
last week. It is offered fall, winter, and spring. It's the Divorce Recovery
Workshop and is held in Lafayette. It has been recommended by a number of people
on this list and that is how I found it.
Good luck to you. It is a rough road. It will get better (I couldn't have said
that until about a week ago, but I finally turned a corner).
Divorce is worse than death, but there is light at the end of the tunnel
I'm very sorry to hear what you are going through. I highly recommend you reach out to
divorce attorney Thomas Wolfrum in walnut creek. He is a 'shark' when representing
clients. He is a very kind person with compassion and empathy. He helped my friend
through divorce. My friend is very happy. I also know a couple of well connected
attorneys send their friends to see Tom. Here's the website www.wolfrumcfls.com and ph#
(925) 930-5645 . Best, Lan
Looking for a hard-hitting aggressive lawyer
I am looking for someone who can recommend a divorce lawyer that is not
but GREAT. I am going to have custody issues with my ex and need someone
can dig deep to help me achieve my goal of full custody. Ex has had
issues to Vicodin and Oxycontin pills for 5 years and I am done and want
children removed from him. Thank you!
Time to Move On!
I would be careful about what you wish for now, while you're angry. My ex looked
for a tough aggressive divorce lawyer and ended up with an unethical dolt who did
nothing but churn the case to generate fees. Half the work in the case involved
correcting that lawyer's over-zealous mistakes and challenges. In the end, we
wound up with a settlement that looked very much like one I had proposed 2 years
earlier -- except for the huge attorney fee bills. I advise you to look around
and to research everyone who's recommended to you.
Looking for great divorce lawyer
Although we've tried working on the marriage, it seems that my husband
and I are headed for divorce. He has a substantial savings and income
(and I've been a stay at home mom for several years), and says that he
will fight me so that I don't get any of ''his'' money. I'm in need of a
very strong, competent lawyer. We live in the Walnut Creek/Lafayette
area, but I'm obviously willing to talk to a lawyer in other areas. There
are also children involved, and at this point, I believe I would want to
have primary custody. Also, I believe that my husband may be/have been
unfaithful, and I'm wondering if that helps my case at all. Never
thought this would happen to me
Divorce is hard, and the laws make it more challenging. I used Mark Wurtzel at
He is VERY competent and fair. He coached me through and believes in ''do today
what you will not regret next year'' in these matters
I read the need for aggressive lawyers, but really, everyone has issues, people
have addictions, people 'cheat'... as for kids, safety first... i won't give
advice on what is possible, what courts should do about sole custody (though i
think that is rare). I had 99% custody of some of my kids (these things are
happily divorced dad
Try Katherine Shlaudeman: (415) 397-1110.
She's skilled enough at what she does that she might be able to help you keep
things from escalating. She helped me with a fairly simple prenup, but I've
known two other people who used her: the first was able to get a fair prenup
agreement from an unreasonable fiance, and the second was a divorce similar to
how you describe yours. Both agreed that she was a tough advocate for them, but
that she kept things rational, calm, and civil. Elizabeth M.
Sf based divorce lawyer - affordable and excellent
I am in the process of going through a divorce, using a mediator, but would
like to consult my own attorney - we own a home and have a young child - I can
not afford a high end attorney, but still would like to consult someone who
would be a strong advocate, and willing to work with someone who is in
mediation, hoping to avoid going to court, and on an hourly basis. Thank you.
Joe Keiser on Geary. He is patient and caring and realistic. Also a parent.
I recommend Lisa Auer or Roxanne Hoegger of Auer & Hoegger. Both are
excellent family law attorneys but because they now have their own
firm you may find them more affordable than some of the larger private
client firms. Ria
Mark Wurtzel... excellent family law guy, office in SF, his number is: (415)
291-9800. ~~been there
Good feminist divorce lawyer?
I am looking for a referral for a good, feminist divorce lawyer in the Berkeley/Oakland
area. Any recommendations (and advice) welcome... Thank you!
Margaret Gannon ONLY represents women and saved my house, custody of the kids,
and created a college fund. She knows everything the judge will do and say,
cause shes been in that courtroom twice a week for over 30 ys. She's smart
aggressive in a disarming ''Grandmother Willow'' kind of way. She and I went
three judges and each and everyone trusted her judgement. I NEVER lost a case
against a very aggressive X, who dragged me in over and over for senseless
reasons, and she at last came up with a solution that put a lid on it.
She's steep, $400 an hour. Yet she'll listen to you for free and give you a
quote on start to finish with keen accuracy. If your divorce is a slam dunk,
can refer you to a less expensive, efficient gal. Over the years, I've
them all in action. You can email me if you want.
Divorce Lawyer for Mom w 2 kids
Hi, I checked the archives, but wondering if anyone had suggestions
for my particular situation. In brief, I'm a late 40s mom with 2 young
kids with special needs and lots and lots of medical and therapy bills.
I gave up my lucrative professional practice 10 years ago to focus on
the kids' needs and have become totally financially dependent on my
husband. After 20 years, my husband (high wage earner) is in a hurry
to get a divorce probably because he's met someone else. He says he
wants to be amicable and provide for my future, but I can't count on
him. Need to protect myself and my kids' financial future. Custody
not an issue. I tried to go back to work several times with no success
and will probably have a hard time securing a decent income stream
being a single mom to 2 high-needs kids. I live in Oakland, but am
willing to go out of area for the right lawyer. Thanks for any
Scared about the future
Contact Andrea Goldman http://andreagoldmanfamilylaw.com She is smart
Divorce Lawyer who speaks Japanese
I am looking for a divorce lawyer who speaks Japanese. Any recommendations?
Miho Takarada. She is an associate at Schoenberg Family Law
Group in San Francisco. 415.834.1120. I think you'll be in
good hands with Miho (and the firm), and she is completely
fluent in Japanese.
Divorce attorney in san francisco
I need to file for divorce from my husband, and desperately need legal
advice. I have very limited financial resources, but my situation is
complicated (I did go to the free legal aid clinic, and they told me I
needed to retain an attorney)... I have a four year old son who I will
be seeking full custody of (though I fully intend to do everything I can
to maintain his relationship with his father), and I will also be
seeking child support so I can keep my child in the bay area to live
near his father (not something I could do without his financial
assistance). I need someone who is very knowlegeable, and will ideally
let me work with them on an hourly basis. And perhaps I should see a
mediator first? Anyway, please, if anyone has any recommendations
(someone based in San Francisco), I would be very grateful.
I am a divorce attorney myself and am therefore well
acquainted with the pros and cons of various attorneys. You
want to hire counsel who regularly practices in that county.
There is a fantastic attorney, who is kind, compassionate,
extremely bright, and actually takes sliding scale cases in
San Francisco. Her name is Jessica Watson and I had a case
against her and it was a pleasure to work with her. She
didn't cut corners but also didn't engage in any unnecessary
drama. I was very surprised to learn that she takes cases
on a sliding scale basis. I'd say RUN and don't walk to
Jessica given your current set of circumstances. She really
is lovely and smart as hell. (415) 864-4640. Good luck! Hannah
Dylan Miles is an experienced family law attorney and mediator. 870
Market Street, Suite 621
San Francisco, CA 94102
415 298 9033 Ilene
I highly recommend Chris Sawyer of Sawyer Mediation. He is an excellent
family/divorce attorney who specializes in mediation so that you don't
have to go to court to get divorced. Sawyer Mediation: 220 Jackson
Street, Third Floor, SF (415) 420-9590 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact VLSP (Volunteer Legal Services Program) in SF
Here's from the Bar Associations Website:
''To find out if you qualify for [pro bono representation] services,
please call the Lawyer Referral & Information Service (LRIS) at
415-989-1616. LRIS staff can be contacted by phone Monday through Friday,
PST, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.''
Don't be discouraged! It may take some time for them to get back to you,
and you must have proof of income (or lack there of), and provide
everything they ask, but stay on it. I had an AMAZING attorney lead me
through my entire, year-
long complicated Family Law (w/ kids) drama, even after it had already
There ARE resources out there to help!
You're Not Alone
Looking for a good family divorce lawyer
I am looking for a great family/divorce lawyer,
do you have a recommandation?
My case involve custody of my dawther, and a difficult
relation with my ex spouse.
Two people I know have used Trina Chatterjee and she took
very good care of them. (510) 893-5200. She offers a free
initial consultation. good luck to you.
Jamie Calloway in Berkeley. http://jamiecallowaylaw.com/
She's been great during my divorce and working out custody
for my young child. Very smart and articulate and really
good at advocating for me. I also like her because she is
reasonable and open to helping the case be settled outside
of court if that is possible (mediation, conferences between
lawyers) rather than just taking it to court, which is the
most expensive option. Unfortunately the more reasonable
options haven't work for me because all my ex wants to do is
fight, but I at least know my attorney guided me through the
best possible scenarios for working out the conflict first
rather than just thinking in terms of money and court only.
Attorney for unexpected divorce
My older friend in Walnut Creek is devastated that her
husband has left her and wants a divorce. She is also
anxious about losing her house and health care. She needs
a referral to a divorce lawyer for a consultation.
I appreciate your suggestions
as I'm very worried about her.
I am going through a contested divorce myself and after a
lot of searching was directed to Robert H. Cashman in San
Francisco and he has been incredibly helpful. I don't envy
anybody going through a contested divorce but if you have no
choice Bob is the best person imaginable to help you through
it. I couldn't imagine going through the last two years
without him helping me and there have been some very hard
days! Bob was educated at Cornell, has been through a
divorce himself and re-married with children from both
marriages, has been in practice over 40 years, and holds
some very prestigious certifications most divorce lawyers
don't have. Thus far we have prevailed in court. Bob is not
cheap but offers a free initial consultation. He is located
near Montgomery BART in SF. We have become friends and
regularly have lunch together (off the clock) before our
meetings. Though I would have much preferred a non-contested
divorce and peaceful settlement to litigation and it's
extreme costs (and strongly advise you to do the same) I
have no doubt I have chosen the right attorney to represent
me. You can reach Bob at 415-439-8341. No harm seeing him
for the free consult and some good advise.
Tell your friend that she (and any kids) are eligible for COBRA coverage
through the husband's plan IF she is covered by it currently. If she is
getting divorced, she should negotiate to have her and the kids'COBRA
paid for by the spouse in the settlement. It's expensive. She should
also stay on top of the health care reform laws and their implications
on COBRA in 2014. Don't settle for a specific amount, just say she
wants the health care paid for. Denise
Seeking Divorce Lawyer in Berkeley/Rockridge Area
Hello. I am unfortunately in need of finding an attorney who
specializes in divorce. This whole process is overwhelming and
extremely upsetting to me, especially with young children involved. I
hope to find someone who is approachable, reasonably priced, kind,
compassionate, experienced (especially in representing the
and competent. Any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations would be
greatly appreciated. Many thanks!
I'm sorry to hear of your predicament. Please understand
that a divorce attorney -- at 350/400 an hour -- should not
be the person you turn to for emotional support or advice
about the emotional aspects of your situation. You are much
better off consulting a therapist or psychologist to deal
with your feelings.
If you feel conflicted about whether to get a divorce, a
lawyer is not the person to talk to. It is probably unwise
to proceed with the divorce while you are feeling
overwhelmed. If your spouse is amenable to counseling or to
a period of separation to allow you some space to think
about what you want, you may all be better off. been there
I would recommend that you give Larry Rosen a call. He's a
mediator and attorney who has gotten a lot of positive
reviews here on BPN. I found him myself through this board.
He just seems to understand what makes people fight and
what helps them resolve their differences. 415-356-9834.
Divorce lawyer for young German wife
Any recs for a divorce attorney right here (Berkeley,
Oakland, Emeryville, or Albany)? I have young clients, early 20's, who have been married
under two years, no kids; the wife is from Germany (fluent
in English) and doesn't have her green card yet. The husband
has almost no money, they bought a house a few months ago
and own it 80/20 (wife owns majority).
It's possible that mediation would suffice (though they'll
need help with filing and the paperwork), but that's not for
sure - the husband doesn't have a lot of clarity.
Who/what would you recommend?
I recommend speaking with Debra R. Schoenberg at (415) 834-
1120. She was on the top 50 Super Lawyers in this practice area last
Very truly yours,
They should call Eva Herzer. She speaks German and
understands international relationships. But more to the
point, she is fair, compassionate, understanding, and truly
skilled as a mediator. She helped my ex (also from Europe)
and I negotiate a very contentious separation, and helped
both of us reach an agreement at a time when being in the
same room with each other was like being in a pressure
cooker. I recommend her highly.
been there, done that
Divorce lawyer in the South Bay
Unfortunately, I have a good friend who is going through a divorce and
since this is such a great resource, I wanted to see if anyone has
recommendations for a good divorce lawyer in the South Bay. Thanks!
Trying to Help
Try Kiana Moradi with Moradi Saslaw LLP. Kiana has offices in the
South Bay and San Francisco. I used to work with her and she is a
great family law attorney (divorces, etc.). Very good at what she
Divorce attorney w/exp with immigration
I have a dear friend who is seperated from her husband (who is British)
and they are ready to start divorce proceedings. She is not from the
bay area and needs recommendations for a local attorney who has
experience dealing with the added challenge of going through this
process with a legal immigrant. She needs someone strong, since he is
combative and started hiding money before they seperated. Thank you for
any recommendations- it could get ugly so she needs someone quick.
I would like to reccommend Stephen Murphy of Murphy, Vu,
Thongsamoth & Chatterjee. His office is in downtown Oakland and
his number is 5108935200. Stephen is a great attorney with lot of
experience representing immigrant women. You should speak to him.
I have to say Mary C Rupp is an amazing lawyer. She truly gives you
her undivided attention, picks up her calls and devotes 100% of
herself to your case. She just won me a move away order and full
custody of my child. I called many lawyers before I hired Mary Rupp
and all of them did not seem right. I had a really good feeling with
her. Shes honest, by the book and tells you how it is whether you
like it or not. She keeps you updated at all times. If you hire her
PLEASE listen to her advice, she is never wrong, shes been doing this
for a long time. Her rates are reasonable given that family law
issues are lengthy. My case took 5 months. Shes the best
representation in the East Bay in my opinion. I dont know if she
deals with immigration but she certainly deals with DIVORCE and ALL
FAMILY issues. I have written up this review at yelp as well because
I believe in her and she can surely help.
Need a divorce lawyer for potential custody battle
I'm looking for an inexpensive divorce lawyer in San Francisco, who
is able to take on a potential custody battle, as well as capable
of dealing with some complicated financial issues (great deal of
debt created in both partners' names by one partner due to drug
use, selling house and dealing with splitting equity given
debt...). I am currently a stay-at-home mom, so money is extremely
tight. I also need to understand if divorce is truly the best/only
Joel Tranter is in Berkeley, not S.F., but right by Berkeley BART,
if that makes a difference. A very good guy with a sense of humor
and a lot of knowledge.
Looking for Family Law Specialist
I am looking for a Divorce Attorney (perferrably one in a Law
Firm) who specializes in Family Law. One who has many years
experience, has connections with experts (forensic
accountants, counselors, and mediators), good standing with
Contra Costa courts, and who continues their education in
their practice. M. C.
I am very happy with Deborah Dubroff. www.dubrofflaw.com/
I can highly recommend Chris Sawyer of Sawyer Mediation. He has his
own firm but comes from a larger Family Law firm background. He has
litigation experience, which he can draw on whenever mediation is not
an option. He's been practicing in the Bay Area for many years, but
you'll have to ask him about his Contra Costa-specific experience.
You can reach him at email@example.com or (415) 420-9590.
Contentious divorce! Need best family law attorney
I am going through the divorce from hell, involving
extensive custody issues and property issues. I can afford
the going rate of $300 an hr. Domociled in Contra Costa
County. I want an excellent strategist; someone that can
move a divorce forward when the other side is
uncooperative, unresponsive, unintelligent, foscused only
on causing the most trouble for me (mother) and the boys
(10&7). I need competent, efficient help to navigate the
insanity of the family law courts. And, I need help now.
Already spent $300K on attorneys fees in just over a year
and no progress. Even forced to pay $57K of husband's
fees and he is trying to bankrupt me to force me to sell
my home that he is living in even though this is the kids'
beloved and only home and I owe him nothing at this point
financially!!!! Please give me your wisdom and
recommendations for attorneys that can actually help me
survive this horrible mess.
Dying to get my life back
Call Deborah Dubroff. She's smart, no-nonsense, and cares about relationships
Here's her phone number: (510) 763-5611
Here's her website: http://www.dubrofflaw.com/
Here are yelp reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/law-offices-of-deborah-
At that billing rate, for the experience and quality of care
you describe, you are best off with an associate attorney
for an experienced family law practitioner. Anyone with 25
years or more bills at $500/hour, and likely does not do
that much litigation anymore (like Steven Greenfield). An
experienced associate can do 95% of the work at a billing
rate of $250-$300 an hour, but has the extensive experience
of firm partners to consult with.
Wow, doesn't sound like current situaton is in the best
interest of ANYONE (you, your ex, or your children.) It's
time to try a more collaborative approach, maybe using a
counselor or other third party to help identify the issues
that are important to you and your husband and to see where
both of you can give and take. There will have to be some give
and take -- you haven't gotten anywhere and have already
burned through months of billable hours.
I am not divorcing, but am involved in a difficult Domestic
Violence Restraining Order process with my ex, who sabotages
everything I do. He did not hit me, but he emotionally and
economically abuses me and has repeatedly declared, once in
front of our child, that he will ''destroy'' me. My attorney
has successfully fought this highly manipulative man, and
girlfriends have told me that wish they'd of known about him
when they were in custody/divorce battles. He has extensive
experience in Alameda County and is a noted expert in family
law. Google him. His office is in Downtown Oakland, and
he's worth every penny. His name is Jed Somit, 510/839-3215.
You should call Debra Schoenberg in San Francisco. She has
years of family law experience and is a tough litigator.
She has a great staff of attorneys who help in her large
cases. She got amazing results for me after my former
attorney did nothing month after month! Check out her
website at www.sflg.com
very satisified former client
One word: MEDIATION. I'm sure you've heard the expression,
pouring gasoline on flames? Well, it seems like you've
already done that twice over. Why not try the settlement
route? Nothing good ever comes out of fighting your ex in
court. We went to Erica Becks: www.diversifiedmediation.com.
Her phone number is 510-394-1964.
Re: Lawyer to draw up prenuptial agreement
I know a wonderful divorce attorney.His name is Dominic
Porrino. His # is 925-385-0259. He is based in Lafayette.
Sharp divorce lawyer in Oakland
Looking for a good sharp divorce lawyer in Oakland area.
I highly recommend Joel H. Tranter in Berkeley. He can be
contacted at 510.292.0907 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Law Attorney to advise about husband's affair
I'm in search of a good family law attorney who can help me
know my options. My husband is having an affair which he
refuses to end until it does naturally. We have a 1yr old son.
We are now living separately, which has helped, but feel I need
some legal advice if this continues. I'd prefer this attorney
to be in Oakland, Berkeley or downtown financial district in SF
(I work downtown).
Recent Single Mama
Hi Single Mama,
I totally feel you. My cousin was going through something like
that. Her lawyer's name is Billie Jean Lee in San Francisco:
415-864-4640. This is the website: www.sfchildandfamilylaw.com.
My cousin was happy with how the case went and even happier that
it didn't cost her an arm and a leg! Stay strong, mama!
Strong divorce attorney for complicated divorce
I need a referral for a really really strong divorce attorney for
complicated family matter.Preferably female lawyer.
Thank you very much.
I don't have a recommendation on the ''strong lawyer'' front, but I
just wanted to put in a word: female lawyers are not necessarily
friendlier or more helpful to women. My ex-husband engaged an
attorney who, if he was representing her remarks accurately to
me, made rather misogynist comments to him during our divorce
process and of course was completely supportive of his side.
Just a caveat.
I share office space with a divorce/child custody attorney,
Mary C. Rupp and I would highly recommend her. She is located
in downtown Oakland at 1814 Franklin Street, Ste 502. Her
telephone number is (510) 452-4092.
Mary has an equal mix of women and men clients. From what I've
seen, she zealously represents her clients whether they are
women or men. She is experienced in all aspects of family law.
Not only do Mary's clients recommend her to others with family
law issues, but she has also received several referrals from
the opposing party in her cases who referred her to their own
friends with divorce/custody issues as they thought their
exes faired better than them because of Mary's work.
She is honest, straightforward and will counsel spouses to act
honestly with one another. She wins by working hard.
Mary has extensive trial experience and has recently won
several trials with many complex issues.
Attorney for hostile abusive and scheming husband
Anyone got any experiences regarding a lawyer in Oakland called
Margaret Gannon? She's been recommended to me as a great divorce
attorney. Especially, would you recommend her as an attorney for a
case with a hostile abusive and scheming husband? A year ago I
wanted mediation; now I need a strong lawyer in court. At least I
Is there anyone else you would recommend?
Thanks in advance
I used Margaret Gannon for my divorce 11 years ago. I found her
to be tough, knowledgeable, courteous and fair. It was great to
have her in my corner.
I don't know about Margaret Gannon, but I wouldn't give up on
mediation so fast. My ex-wife and i had a very rough (verbal
abuse both ways) relationship and a tougher breakup. On the
brink of hiring a bull-dog attorney, she read a post last year
on peaceful divorces
and then spoke to me about it. We decided
to go the route of mediation. It hasn't been easy but our
relationship has at least gotten somewhat better, rather than
worse. The big winner is our child, who would have been the
one to lose if we had gone through any form of litigation. I
think just about anyone can do without attorneys going to war
(if both people are committed).
Don't give up on peace. We didn't.
My son is currently unemployed and has been separated since Nov. He has a 2 yr old
and wants at least 50% custody. His wife gave up her older son to his father. He
needs a sweet, strong, understanding, and reasonable lawyer.
Perhaps your son does not need to retain an attorney at all -
especially if he wants to save $6,000-$30,000 lawyers' fees and keep
the divorce as amicable as possible (research has shown that getting
lawyers involved makes divorces more contentious, time-consuming &
sometimes hideously expensive). He should buy the book & CD set ''How
to Do Your Own Divorce in California'' - it contains all the forms
needed, plus the phone number of their Divorce Helpline, where he can
ask questions of a lawyer if he needs to, for a very reasonable fee.
This is what my ex and I will be doing.
If his ex-wife did not contest custody in her previous divorce, I'm
sure he can get her to agree to half-time custody - and it's best for
kids to see a lot of both parents, unless they are abusive or
incapable of parenting. If they need one, they can hire a mediator to
resolve difficult questions - there's a good non-profit mediation
service in Berkeley (http://www.seedscrc.org/services/mediation.php),
or pay the $130/hr the private ones charge.
Avoid the divorce industry - it's not the only, or best option. I'd
also like to recommend Kidsturn, an organization to support kids and
parents who are going through a divorce - you will find a website &
workshops locally. Good luck to him, his ex & his child.
Unfortunately, it seems as if my marriage is at an impasse. My husband
and I are both very unhappy, but he refuses to go to counseling. I do
not want to spend the rest of my life being unhappy. However I do not
know where to begin. We have one child. Unfortunately, we can't sell our
house right now because with things being the way they are with the
market, we actually owe more on it than it is worth. So I don't know how
we would handle our separation financially. I need someone who can offer
compassionate advice for my situation. I don't want to ''screw'' my
husband but I will definitely need financial help to support our child,
etc. I don't know where to start.
I'd like to recommend Sharon Braz at Blum, Braz and Gibbs
(www.bbgfamilylaw.com). She is in Oakland, near Lake Merritt. I
found her extremely helpful and efficient when dealing with my
now ex-husband as we recently had to renegotiate child support.
She mediated between us and things got sorted out without any
unnecessary delay. She had come highly recommended by my
original divorce attorney, Cindy Frazier-Hillsborough, who had
helped me back in 1998 (she now only covers Contra Costa and no
longer Alameda County).
Good luck to you!
I am sorry to hear you are struggling in your marriage. Divorce
is a major life transition and it is important to learn as much
as possible about your options. You might try
www.Divorcenet.com to get general information about the divorce
process- they have state specific information.
I am in Berkeley, but can travel to the city or anywhere in the bay area.
I'm hoping to find someone very experienced and familiar with verbal
abuse. I wonder if anyone know the work of Hannah Sims or Lillian
This is all new to me and there is so much at stake (kids, house).
Thanks for any recommendations.
I cannot say enough good things about:
1919 Addison St.
Berkeley Ca. 94704
She is logical, totally fair (to everyone), tough as armor when she has
to be,honest and reasonably priced. Please, at least go over and talk
I had a great divorce attorney that did the job with very reasonable
rates, compared to my first attorney who did nothing and charged me for
sending me the bill saying he had done nothing. Glen Sugiyama is on
Green Street in San Francisco. I called him several years after he
handled my case and he remembered me. Good luck!
I used Hannah Sims for my divorce.
She is a very smart woman. She is hip and cool and funny and very
sympathetic. However, she
was horrible about returning my phone calls even when the matter was
urgent. Once in court, though, she was smart and effective and with it.
If you are ok with a looser style she will be fine for you.
RE: Divorce lawyers covered by ARAG
I highly recommend Mark Wurtzel as a level headed attorney. I
don't know what the ARAG coverage at UC is ... but Mark is a
great family law attorney that lays out the facts, understands
the facts, tries to help everyone understand the state
guidelines of all the pertinent aspects for your divorce ... AND
gives a damn about his clients and their families. He gets the
divorce done so you can get to the next stage in life. Divorce
is hard (and expensive for some), a good, level headed divorce
attorney is a good person to know when you need their expertise.
He can be reached at: (415) 291-9800. His office is in San
Francisco but represented me in Alameda County.
O in Berkeley
This posting is for my sister. She needs a great understanding DIVORCE Attorney. My
sister relied on her husband of over 15yrs to handle all the finances, they agreed she
would work part-time and raise their 3 daughters now (13, 11, 9)will to make a long
story short he truned out to be very controlling, manipulative and a habitual liar. He
knew these last 2 years they were losing their home acted like everything was alright
lived beyond their means ran up the credit told her they had money in the bank took
trips and now the walls are crashing down on him. He committed fraud, house went into
foreclosure, creditors now calling bank closed account, just found out he had opened
up another bank account only in his name and the lies just keep coming. I'm doing
what I can to help my sister out but now at a point where she is going to need an
attorney. It's a very bad situation all around - only 6 weeks left of school but
doesn't know if she can stay with him it's a rental leased for one year. . she's going to take the girls and will have to live w/our mom, but
in the meantime she's stuck. . Any advise???? Thanks
After 10 years with some very dishonest divorce attorneys, I finally found a
competent and honest one Jan Vandusen 510-689-6541 email@example.com
Larry Rosen (Through Understanding)
. I used him to help
me resolve some custody and money issues with a very difficult ex-spouse. He
usually mediates but sometimes does this thing he calls ''peaceful advocacy''
where he represents an individual. He knows the law very well but I think
what's different about his is that unlike most attorneys he helps bridge the
gap. He helped me find a little peace with my ex which is something i couldn't
do through 12 years of marriage and 2 other divorce attorneys.
He might only be doing mediation these days but it's worth a call. 415-356-9834
I also hear that Andrea Eichorn is good (a friend used her). (510) 652-0220.
I am looking for a divorce lawyer to help a friend who is a
SAHM with no income.
Some quick facts:
- Her husband left her while she was pregnant and went to work
in China for an American company(even though there are many
jobs here he could have taken he claims he couldn't find a
- He has always been verbally and mentally abusive to my friend
and talks down about her to me (I IM with him on a regular
basis but he doesn't know I know what's going on)
- Their son who is now a year old was born full term but had a
long NICU stay and continues to have many issues.
- When he comes to visit he gets upset that the baby cries b/c
he is constipated or sick and hits him and tells him to shut
- Since moving to China he has not sent her a penny and has all
his money in a bank in China
- She is living off her savings and some money her mother has
- He has access to her accounts and questions anything she buys
or why money has been taken out
- He is threatening to take the baby away from her and take him
to China and hire 2 full time nannies who he says will do a
better job taking care of him than she does
- Her English is shaky and she is shy and he is taking
advantage of this-trying to keep her down and keeping her in a
constant state of being scared that he will take her son
Can any help me find someone who is low/no cost (or will
accept payment after she gets money from her husband) that
might be able to help her?
Appreciate any help
You can tell her to call the SF Bar Associations VLSP
(http://www.sfbar.org/volunteer/index.aspx) to see if she
qualifies for free legal services. Also they run a lawyer
referral service if she can afford to pay some fees.
Tell your friend to contact Asian Pacific Islander Legal
Outreach. APILO is a public interest, non-profit law firm
that has lawyers that will work with your friend on a
sliding scale basis. They have offices in Oakland
(510/251-2846) and San Francisco (415/567-6255) or email
If your friend's husband is hitting their one year old
child, I would highly recommend she obtain a restraining
order against him. If she qualifies, she could also obtain
temporary custody, child support and spousal support. I
recommend contacting Family Violence Law Center at
510-208-0255. I also recommend attorney Margaret Gannon who
handles a lot of domestic violence/international custody
cases. Her number is (510) 452-1700, but I have no idea if
she could take a no/low fee case.
After checking the archives, I still need advice for a really, really good divorce
lawyer. I have a complicated situation: married 15 years; two children aged 7 and
under, one of whom is mentally ill, violent and has many ''special-needs''; I gave
up a lucrative professional career to stay at home due to very difficult family
circumstances and am now entirely financially dependent on my husband. However,
I've finally come to the conclusion that my marriage is unviable, and my husband is
abusive and controlling.
My husband is sure to be very nasty in a divorce -- he told me once it would be
''war'' if I ever tried to divorce him. E.g., he will not leave the family home
and told me to seek a court order if I want to get him out. I would leave, but
don't know if I would be compromising future custody rights vis-a-vis the children.
My husband is a lawyer, will lie when convenient, and will stop at nothing --
including alleging substance abuse and neglect. We have already had the police
called to our home for domestic disturbances.
I need a seasoned, extremely competent lawyer who can handle highly charged
situations, which mine is sure to be. I need some pre-separation planning advice,
as well as someone to guide me step-by-step through what is sure to be a hellacious
Thanks for any referrals.
I'm very sorry to hear about your difficulites. I'm sure your doing the right
thing by getting out of an abusive relationship for you and your children. I
would love to recommend a great divorce attorney her name is Lily Halem
her email address is
and her office number is (510)868-3302
Give her a call I'm sure she can help you.
I wish you and your children the best of luck and hope everything works out!
difficult situation? i'll say. my heart goes out to you and i wish you
all the best of luck. laura basaloco-lapo was referred to me by the dentist
i found here (on bpn) and she helped me and i like her a lot. her phone
numbers are: 415:392-2018 and 415:433-6727 (direct). her email is
We just got news of our long standing divorce case being decided
against our favor. The judge strongly recommends appealing since she
was not able to do anything but feels the contract is so unfair. Need
an aggressive, smart, charitable family lawyer who works appeals. We
live in Oakland.
Want the BEST!!!!
I'm an appellate lawyer, but don't do family law. The best appellate lawyers who
do family law are Dick Sherman and Vicki DeGoff, a husband and wife team who
live/work in Berkeley.
I just took a family law seminar from Garrett Dailey who is a local family law
attorney and legal scholar. He has won cases at the California Supreme Court level
and is likely the most skilled and brilliant family law attorney around, and he is
a nice guy to boot! I do not know his private practice contact info, but you can
look him up on the State Bar website or call 510-836-2743.
After many years of unhappiness, I'm waking up to the fact that my husband is emotionally
and verbally abusive. I'm considering divorce and am looking for a lawyer who is familiar
with these kinds of issues and dynamics and how they play into divorce and custody. It's a
perilous road so I really want someone who knows what I'm dealing with. Prefer East Bay.
laura basaloco-lapo, 415:433-6727, was highly recommended to me for
exactly what you describe by the dentist i found here on bpn; dr. sonia
garden told me laura had performed admirably for her sister who was in the
same (very bad) situation as you. i myself have had limited experience with
laura (about an hour's free consultation via phone and a couple more in an
interview in her office, for which i paid her) and i like her a lot and
probably need to hire her for more advice.
please feel free to use my name as having recommended her. good luck.
Gary Silber (925-937-1100) is a very experienced divorce attorney (30+ years,
as well as several years on the bench). He's helped many people through
extremely difficult cases like yours. I hope that life gets better for you
Here is a referral for a divorce attorney that is terrific. Her name is
Anrea Eichorn, J.D. 652-0220.
Her e-mail is AME[at]MEDIATIONOFFICES.NET
Healing and peace to you!
Start by having a consultation with either Cynthia Podren or Hannah Sims,
both in East Bay--sorry, I don't have their numbers handy. They are both
very good and if they can't take your case, they will know someone else who
is qualified. I think it's very important for you to work with someone who
has experience with abuse cases, because engaging in divorce and custody
issues with an abuser adds some very specific elements to the case that most
attorneys aren't qualified to handle. Also, you can expect the mediators,
evaluators and jugdes to be woefully ignorant on how spousal abuse puts
children at risk in custody disputes.
There is an organization in Southern California called New Horizons (or
something of that nature) that has published an excellent guide to the
California family courts for survivors of domestic abuse. If you can't find
their information, please ask the moderator to provide you with my email
address, and I will find their contact information (or copy the guide for you
if you prefer). It's a wonderful and very informative publication, and I
consider it essential for anyone in your situation.
Been there too
I need an assertive divorce attorney who practices primarily in Oakland
and is well respected by the Oakland judges. The archives on recommended
divorce attorneys don't specify whether they practice in Oakland.
I don't have major child custody issues; main issues will be his attempt
to get a share of my pension, and division of assets. Because of his
attitude, mediation won't work for us.
Our family lawyer is both well known and respected in the Oakland courthouse. She
has been available to us for ex-parte motions and seemingly endless court dates.
She is detailed, assertive ( would not let the judge NOT hear her) and a mother
herself. She has helped my husband navigate the (often) gender imbalanced
California court system to retain full custody of his two young kids and keep
their limited visits with their (very unstable, abusive and neglectful)mother
She has a small office in Oakland with an attentive assistant, knows her stuff and
has guided us through some difficult decisions. On top of all that, we have a
blast every time we have to go see her.
I highly recommend Tracey Kaufmann.
I'm looking for an attorney who can handle a Divorce/Child Custody case.
Any personal recommendations? In need of help
I can highly recommend Sylvia Keita, in Oakland. Sylvia is very smart. Although
she is mild-mannered and kind, she is totally capable of going head to head
against tough opponents.
I checked out the BPN website for recommendations on filing for
a divorce, but the postings dated back to 2003. I am looking
for suggestions on filing for divorce. I have been separated
from my estranged husband since 2004. We did not have children
together nor assets so I am assuming that this would be an easy
process. I don't have a lot of money to spend so I'm looking
for the most economical method to acccomplish this goal.
Please help! Thanks.
If you believe there will be no arguments regarding the
divorce/division of assest/etc, then a paralegal might suffice
for your purposes. Otherwise, the next most affordable option is
likely to use a divorce mediator. You can also choose to file
all the paperwork yourself (and involve no one but a Nolo Press
book for guidance), or have the paralegal/mediator file it all
I've heard good things about:
Divorce with Dignity
Cindy Elwell, Paralegal
Divorce Mediator (economical)
I divorced inexpensively twice by doing it myself. I bought the
Nolo Press book on doing your own divorce. It's not perfect and
can be confusing, but with patience you can file your own
paperwork. The actual filing fees are somewhere around $200 (it's
been a while so I don't remember exactly). In simple cases (no
kids or property, short marriage) your spouse doesn't have to
file or reply; you get a default divorce.
As a back up, I used Sherman, Williams & Lober at 800-359-7004.
They are located in Soquel, CA, but you work with them strictly
over the phone. They bill your credit card on a per-minute basis.
Both times I did my best with the paperwork, and when I got stuck
I prepared all my questions, called them, and got very good, very
fast advice on what to do. They were actually very kind and
I had some complicated issues. The first time there was property
and a child involved and I had to attend one child custody
hearing; the second time I was divorcing someone who was mentally
ill and had to set up an agreement between us to cover issues of
spousal support. Both times I was still able to do all my own
Hi. Don't know where you reside but I'm assuming you're here in
the Bay Area. I work in the San Francisco Family Law unit
specifically hearing divorce cases and San Francisco has a free
legal advice room called ACCESS at their civic center
courthouse. You can seek advice there and they will provide you
with specific directions as to what you need e.g, which papers
to fill out so you can represent yourself in propria persona
(meaning you represent yourself without an attorney) in the
courtroom. Family law attorneys are expensive, so with no real
estate or kids, please, don't bother with attorney fees. I'd
also suggest you purchase a copy of a book entitled, MAKING YOUR
RECORD written by a panoply of courtroom staff providing
terrific information as to how to perform in the courtroom with
or without a lawyer. It's a courtroom guidebook that gives you
all the nuts and bolts as to courtroom protocol in simple
everyday language. You can buy yourself a used copy on Amazon.
The better prepared you are, the less expenses incurred, and the
easier you make the job for the judge and the courtroom staff to
help you with resolution. If you and your ex can stipulate
(meaning come to an agreement) beforehand, it makes things flow
even smoother!! Good luck!!
My husband and I have been together 5 years. We each have been
through prior divorces. He has nothing good to say about his
ex or their life or divorce together (therefore he says very
little), but he still comments many times (when general subject
is brought up by others) about the excellent experience he had
with Divorce With Dignity dwdignity.com
married with dignity
Pick up the Nolo Press book on Divorce in CA. It costs about
$35. There are forms and instructions on where to check to make
sure you have all the correct forms. Also, there is a listing
of people who will fill out the divorce forms for you, for a
nominal fee, so they will already have the correct forms. My
divorce cost me a little over $500 four years ago since my Ex
and I could come to agreements on our own and niether of us had
much money for an attorney.
Happily and cheeply divorced
I divorced my first husband for less than $200 if I remember
correctly (this was in 1988, so it was a while ago). We lived
in Boston, did not have any children, and - most importantly -
both agreed to the divorce. A lawyer friend advised me that I
could do it cheaply by going to the courthouse in the district
where we lived and filing everything myself. I picked up the
paperwork, we both filled it out and signed it, and then there
was a waiting period after we submitted it (a cooling down
period, to make sure we really wanted to divorce). After that
was over, we were summoned to court. It was surreal. There were
about 15 couples in the room, all filing for divorce. Each
couple took turns walking to the front of the room to speak to
the judge. When we got up there, he asked if we had children
(No) and if we both agreed to the divorce (Yes). And voila - we
were divorced! It took another couple weeks for the official
paperwork to come through, and that was it.
Here is a great website for your situation:
Then you can go to this site to download the forms:
Also, ask about the Family Law Facilitator in your county; if
you are in Alameda county, there is one at 1225 Fallon in
Oakland, near Lake Merritt. Good luck.
Re: Marriage not working, therapy not working - attorney? (Dec 2006)
Andrea Eichorn is a wonderful, sharp attorney based in Piedmont/Oakland.
Her number is (510) 652-0220. She does not do litigation but does
mediation and collaborative divorce. And she can advise you even if she
doesn't end up representing you.
Good luck. It's a tough situation.
Best divorce lawyer I know of is Bradford Baugh in Mountain View,
California. There are other good lawyers in the archives. Get yourself a
really really good lawyer and lock down everything that you can before
you announce that you're getting a divorce.
Good luck to you!
I have found that I may require the services of a divorce
attorney. The posts that I have checked are several years old
and I would like to receive some recent referrals.
I personally know that Ai Mori is an excellent family law
attorney because I practiced family law with her, at the firm of
Minami, Lew & Tamaki. She is smart in an accessible way, not an
ivory tower ''I'm better than you'' kind of way. She's also a
kind and compassionate human being, and respected by her peers.
One of the things that makes MLT's family law group exceptional
is that they work to SETTLE your case in an efficient, timely
manner. Unfortunately, in the course of my practice, I did run
into a few family law attorneys who do not aim to settle the
case. These bad apples just let things drag along, they don't
take the time to review the case and propose a global
settlement, and/or they'll encourage conflict between their
client and the other side. These approaches cost you, the
client, more money. I hope you call Ai Mori for a consultation
at 415.788.9000 and go to the website www.mltsf.com to read
about Ai Mori and the history of MLT. (The founders of MLT
founded the Asian Law Caucus.)
Need an attorney I can consult with
I have checked the archives for recommendations regarding
divorce/family law attorneys, but my particular question didn't
arise. That is, I do not want to retain legal counsel for
divorce -- I would prefer to do mediation. But many (including
my therapist) have recommended that I consult a lawyer about my
rights and responsibilities before entering into mediation.
Cost is an issue for me, and I would prefer to have just one
consultation to get an idea of the big picture before broaching
the issue of mediation (we are currently in couples therapy
with a therapist who will do mediation if we request it). I
have looked through the Nolo ''do-it-yourself'' book but still
feel the need to ask some pointed questions pertaining to our
particular situation. Is it true, as the Nolo book argues,
that family lawyers will resist doing a single consultation and
insist on being retained? Does anyone know of any lawyer who
would consult with me as I prefer? Or am I being unrealistic?
We have been married for nearly fifteen years and have a minor
Thanks for any advice
stressed and in need of info
When I needed a consultation, I called Linda Cox-Cooper. I
told her up front I wasn't ready to retain anyone, and that was
fine with her. She spent time with me and really listened.
She didn't pressure me at all to retain her at that time, and a
month later I followed up with her and retained her when it was
clear my custody situation was about to escalate. She has been
really great. She's located in Oakland, very close to the
Downtown 12th St. Bart station. She represents moms and dads
in divorce and custody cases but she also represents a lot of
children in the family court system and she really, really
cares about the effect of the parents' legal decisions on the
well-being of the children. I feel I can trust her advice to
be legally sound and profoundly ethical. She will not let you
lose sight of what your children need while you're going
through your divorce and custody.
By the way, all cases that go through the family court system
are referred for mandatory family court services mediation.
Some of the mediators are good, some are awful. All are really
busy. I don't know if this applies to your case or not, but
mediation is terrible for anyone who has been a victim of any
form of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, because the
abusive partner usually comes out stronger and more reasonable,
while the abused partner comes out looking weak and irrational,
regardless of intellectual strength and abilities. I would not
recommend any form of mediation as a substitute for legal
counsel, especially in cases where any abuse is involved.
I don't know if she's taking clients at this time, but you
might want to give her a call.
I contacted the Contra Costa Bar Association (also one in
Alameda?)For $30 they will set you up with a lawyer for a 30
min consult. Have your questions prepared. Maybe you can
request David Welty (office in downtown Oakland). I think he
might also do mediation. Less pricy at $150/hr.
I am seeking recent recommendations for divorce attorneys.
I am separated from my
husband of 7 years. We have one child together (he is 2.5
yrs). I have already met with an attorney and did not feel
that we were a good fit, she was pretty expensive ($300/hour)
and she only suggested that we go to a mediator and a child
custody mediator (who each charge $375/hour in 10 hour blocks).
WOW. Once we have met with them and have come up with some
terms then we both have to go back to our respective attorneys
and review the documents. Sounds to me like this process is
going to be VERY EXPENSIVE and require a lot of meetings. Is
this how to get a divorce???? I am very overwhelmed and
confused. Thus far my ''spouse'' and I are relatively agreeable
and communicating. He moved out and is still paying for
household expenses. He refuses to go to counseling and says we
are simply not compatible, therefore this is the only option,
divorce. We need someone to draft up the child custody and
divorce paperwork properly. We have some assets, but nothing
all that complicated, house, two cars and a few stock accounts.
I would love to hear some recommendations for attorneys or
mediators/attorneys who will prepare and process necessary
paperwork. My spouse thinks that we can do this online. I
disagree. I prefer speaking with someone in person and getting
all the facts straight. I would like work with an attorney to
advise me (and possibly both of us or my spouse can hire his
own if necessary). I want the best legal advice/representation
for the price. Any current suggestions? What is the best way
to get through this process with the least amount of expenses?
Give Amalia Hartwell a call (she used to sit on my Board of
Also in San Francisco at the Superior Court you can make an
appointment with a ''Legal Counselor'' who can help you to fill
out all the ''right'' paperwork. You might try this if you are
looking for an inexpensive route.
I have been married twenty years and will be getting divorce. I have looked at the website and made several calls. I am thinking of employing Margaret Gannon. Can anyone please give me some feedback if you have employed her or heard of her? She currently charge $300 per hour which is pricey.
I used Margaret Gannon for my divorce 6 years ago. I found her
great to work with. She thoroughly laid out options and
strategies and was sensitive to finances. She's a real bulldog
in court and seems well known and well regarded there. I
received a very fair child support reward - though not perfect.
I can certainly recommend her.
That does seem pricey. I have used the services of Algera Tucker
and have found her extremely helpful during a particularly
difficult divorce process. Her rates are going up from $225.00
to $250.00 in February. I would highly recommend her. Her office
number is (510) 985-1900.
I recently asked my husband to move out. He had been taking
money from our accounts to go drinking and buying lap dances at
strip joints and lying about how he was at work those nights.
All of this while I was pregnant with our third child. It went
on for a year then I caught him and he promised to stop and get
counseling and marriage therapy ... He stopped his individual
counseling after three sessions. Told our marriage counselor he
was only interested in a marriage of convenience for the kids
sake. I also caught him again taking money out last week.
I dont want a long drawn out ugly divorce case but I also want
to protect myself. THere is a house and some stocks and IRAs and
three kids involved. Which way should I go? Any pros or cons? I
am not in a mental place to do this on my own with a Nolo book.
I know there are archives and recommendations for lawyers and
mediators but how do you decide which type to go with? thanks
dazed and confused
As a mediator and formerly practicing attorney, (neither in
family law), my preference in general is for mediation. It can
offer the parties more: options for resolution (at least in
other areas of law; ownership of decisions made; opportunity to
figure out what they really want or need and to work toward
that; and more of a chance to deal with emotions on all sides. I
would think that in the family arena in particular, under the
right circumstances it could leave everyone impacted --
particularly the children -- more whole to go forward with
healthy relationships with each of the parents.
My concern, however, would be that in my experience
mediation only works where both parties agree that there is a
problem, that each in good faith wants to work it out and that
both are willing stand behind any agreements reached. Facts you
have mentioned -- lying, not following through with commitments,
doing things behind your back -- make me wonder if litigation
would be a better choice in your situation. It provides finality
and clarity where the parties are incapable of coming to their
I'd suggest that you speak with a couple of litagators and a
couple of mediators in family law to see what they think would
be the best approach to your situation and why. There are even
some litigator/mediators who offer both. Their input could give
you a better basis on which to make your decision.
Get an attorney -- NOW!
Don't let him get his hands on the money
You didn't really ask this question, but I'll give the advice
anyway: Get all the money in your name ASAP. You can't take the
risk that he'll abscond with more while the separation/divorce
legalaties are in progress. Of course, there will ultimately be
a division of assets, and you may have to return some to him,
and you may have to make payments to him for his immediate
needs, but better to do that than to find that there are ''no''
assets to divide and no support for you and the kids. Also, he
does not sound like the kind of trustworthy, honest person with
whom I'd want to engage in mediation -- so see a lawyer. I know
this isn't the place for recommendations, but if you want some
names, email me. I have some connections in the East Bay legal
I have read the listings on the UC Berkeley website several times, but want to know
if there are any OTHER recommendations for good divorce attorneys in the East Bay.
My husband and I have been together for 12 years, have a young daughter, and love
each other very much, but we need to divorce. I'm looking for somebody VERY good
at this type of thing, but also compassionate. This is extraordinarily painful. I'm not
out to 'get him.' I just want to land on my feet if possible. He makes a lot more
money than I do, and he's leaving me for somebody else. Any recommendations or
advice is appreciated.
There were lots of requests for lawyer referrals, so I'll give
a few for each category (I'm a lapsed lawyer and keep in touch,
to some extent, with the fields requested)
Divorce (also look for recommendations under family law or
Margaret Gannon - Oakland - 452-1700
Susan Bender - Oakland - 832-1411
Cynthia Podren - Berkeley - 527-5901
Miriam Steinbock - Oakland - 763-5611
Dennis Rothhaar - Oakland - 763-5611
If you need names in SF, email me and I'll give you some.
Family law Mediators:
Eva Herzer - Kensington - 526-5144
Martina Reeves - Berkeley - 559-2685
I can't vouch for results, of course, but the recommendations
are of people/firms I know.
I can recommend David Bunn as a divorce attorney. He is
has a certification in Family Law, is compassionate and
smart. His office is in Berkeley, phone number 528-0700.
He is not an ''out-to-get'' lawyer, but will inform you of your
rights and negotiate for you. I hope your partner will also
find a cooperative lawyer so you can work things out without
going to court. Another option might be using a mediator,
such as Eva Herzer. She is a lawyer, and mediator, who
could also inform you of your rights (as well as your
partner's) and help you come to an agreement, if you are
able to work together on this. I know this is a very very
difficult time in your life, and my heart goes out to you.
in the same boat
I would like to recommend my friend Rosanne Calbo-Jackson. She is very
knowledgable, compassionate and patient. She works out of her home in Oakland.
I don't know if one of the many attorneys you have already
consulted is Deborah Sandler, but she is a very experienced
family law attorney in Walnut Creek, 925-943-7456.
To help you understand your situation and what the judge is
thinking, you may want to check out the Nolo Press book on
divorce in California. You can probably get it from the library.
I'd appreciate any recommendations about a good divorce attorney
who can advise me about my rights in a potentially complex
situation (all of the property is in my name, but we live in
California, I earn more than my husband by a long shot, and we
have a recently adopted infant). I'm not sure what I want to do
yet, but his prior divorce was very acrimonious and he has
advised me that he has already checked into his rights. It
could be grandstanding, but I think I need to be sure that I and
my son are taken care of.
I highly recommend Katie Fox at Fox and Bank in Walnut
Creek. She is incredibly smart, honest and fair, and
compassionately and efficiently helped me negotiate a
complicated legal separation involving a cross-country
custody dispute. I was in INCREDIBLY capable hands.
Her partner, Melissa Bank, is apparently also terrific -- both
are very successful, talented women who managed to
negotiate THEIR OWN divorces involving young children
with a minimum of acrimony and that , as well as protecting
their clients' interests, is their goal. The fact that they've both
been through divorces involving young children was
enormously comforting to me -- and I found Katie thoughtful
and empathetic. Best of luck, and feel free to contact me
with any other questions.
Re a good divorce attorney, I used to do high-end intense family
law. Recommendations depend on what county you live in, because
it's important that you get a good lawyer who also practices a
lot in that county, that knows the ins and outs of that county's
way of doing things, and that the judge knows and respects.
Family law is a small world. For each county, there are around
5 heavy hitting lawyers that frequently get recommended for
mixed cases involving both property and custody. Some great
lawyers only do property and support issues, and won't do
custody. Others only do mediation, others are known for being
aggressive and experienced in court.
Feel free to e-mail me with more info, if you're in San
Francisco, Alameda or Marin Counties I could give you numbers
and names of people to see. Consultations with lawyers sometimes
are free or cost at most one-two hours of time. See more than
one lawyer before you decide; they'll also give you practical
and legal advice in that first meeting that should help give you
a more knowledgeable (and less intimidated) perspective on
I can recommend Karen Heller Berdy at 925/937-0440. She
specializes in mediation, but also has an active practice in
contested divorce proceedings. She's smart and well educated
(lawyer and MBA), tough, and has the personality and capability
to handle complicated matters. She went through her own
difficult divorce years ago (which led her to switch practices
from corporate to divorce law), so can emotionally relate as
The most amazing divorce attorney I've ever witnessed in action
is Sarah Leverett (sad to say I spent 10-plus years in and out
of family court and have seen the gamet when it comes to
lawyers). She is very pricey, but if your divorce is going to be
acrimonous and you'll be spending time in court, she is well
worth the money. She gets a lot of respect from the judges!
Unfortunately I wasn't able to use her because she only took
clients who had not had a previous attorney (I think she didn't
want to clean up after another attorney's mess).
Another suggestion at the other end of the spectrum is to use a
mediator. Eva Herzer in Kensington (526-5144) is wonderful ...
(click here to see review)
It sounds like you need someone who is strong! I recommend
Frank Presto (925-846-4006), who did a fabulous job helping my
husband in his divorce. Frank grew up in North Beach in San
Francisco in a strong Italian family and really knows his
business. Tell him Bob and Ilene sent you!
I am in a similar situation: complex assets with a young
child, I make more $$ (at least on the books). Although I
chose another lawyer, Robert Kligman in SF is supposed to
be the best. If for some reason he cannot help you, he can
probably recommend another attorney who could.
I am in urgent need of finding a new family law attorney. I have read all the recommendations on this site and have even seen one of those attorneys, whom I found extremely abrasive and condescending. The next one charged me exoribant fees that have amounted to 10,000 for doing awfully little. My husband and I are divorcing and he is seeking to gain custody of our kids. My husband's attorney is very agressive. I thought I could divorce amicably and fairly. However this is anything but that, and I stand to lose a lot if I don't get excellent representation. So if you have a recommendation, I would love to hear from you, but keep in mind, that with the mess I have on my hands, I now need the
very best representation available. Preferably someone who has many years in the field, has a stellar reputation, and is possibly also a family law specialist. Thank you.
stalwarth but folding
I can highly recommend Nancy Parent (phone 925-439-0444). She
has 25+ years experience in family law, and is a no-nonsense
I recommend Margaret Gannon in Oakland. She was a real champion
for me. I didn't get everything I wanted but she was very
diligent and patient and drove my husband crazy. She also most
generously allowed me to pay her over time with little or no
Try the firm Preville * Frey. They are located in Alameda.
Both partners are women. I interveiwed with them once for an
attorney position. They seem very professional and tough.
Try Joanne Schulman. Her number is 415-863-5300, ext. 12. I
have been going through a miserable divorce for some time, and
she has been wonderful. She works very hard for me, is very
experienced and honorable, and very tenacious, while being kind
and supportive to me - all very necessary qualities in my
I believe she will be on vacation most of August, as I think
most attorneys are.
I wish you the very best in your difficult situation.
The more you are organized with what your divorce atty has done,
and what you want them to do, the more money you will save. You
can also do your own research at the Boalt law library which is
open to the public. The Lexis academic database will give you
cases by key words, like spousal support, or custody. The cases
you get will be either unpublished (and can't be cited, but are
very informative), or published and thus precedent. There's a
lot you can understand yourself. You can email the cases to
yourself or print for 10 cents a page. You definitely want a
family law specialist, someone who does divorce day in and day
out. If your husband has an attorney who wants to litigate, it's
best that you get someone of the same kind. Ask them how often
they are in court. Many attorneys can't stomach this approach
and do mediation only. My ex was a withhold everything, threaten
constantly type person so I had to have a litigator. His
attorney is very inexperienced and that has been a problem. If
first session is free, great, but I would budget 3 or 4 visits at
$150-240 each and do a thorough interview, including asking them
what their strategy would be. You should know the law says 50%
to everyone (property, children, assets) unless there are
exceptional circumstances (that's where the research comes in) or
private agreements. Good luck. PS Your atty should be able to
comment on the judges too
I am looking for a referral for a client of mine. She needs
to talk to someone about the financial / real estate /tax
issues of her upcoming divorce. She is legally married (in
California) to another woman. She has limited financial
means but is smart and curious and wants to make sure she is
treating both herself, her ex-partner and their child fairly.
Hi -- Tara Flanagan is a great family law attorney who specializes in
these matters. Her contact info is:
Tara M. Flanagan
FLANAGAN LAW OFFICES
1814 Franklin Street, Suite 502
Oakland, CA 94612
Alma Soongi Beck is a lawyer in SF (Glen Park) who specializes in gay and
lesbian tax law. She is peerless. She has one associate who is also
excellent, whom she closely oversees, who has a lower fee: Joseph F.
I am in a situation where my partner and I may be splitting
up at some point. We are not there yet but, there are
children involved and I would like to consult a lawyer or
other expert just to know what my options are, not to take
any legal action. Can any of you suggest anyone open for
such a consultation who has some expertise dealing with LGBT
cases? I would like to pay for a single consult though, I
might use this person for representation in the future.
We used (and continue to use) Eva Herzer. She is a
delightful, smart lady who used to practice as a lawyer, but
now works as a mediator. We mediated our whole situation,
including children, and go back for a ''tune up'' now and then
when we can't solve something between the two of us. Eva
Herzer, Mediator and Attorney at Law 901 Peralta Ave Albany,
CA 94706. Phone: (510) 526-5146. She is acquainted with LGBT
issues as well as adoptions. When I did a Google search, I
noticed that she has received many kudos from other BPN
families as well.
Andrea Goldman is an attorney who has experience with both
straight and lesbian/gay couples. She works with Carol
Amyx and has good people skills. She is sensitive,
comfortable with all populations, able to keep
confidentiality, and easy to talk to. Her phone number is
I work in family law and generally send LGBT cases to
Shane Ford or Algera Tucker. Both are superb attorneys
with expertise in domestic partnership dissolutions. You
can find their contact info on the web. Good luck to you.
I worked with Sharon Braz at Blum Braz & Gibbs LLP Family
Law in Oakland (by Lake Merritt):
http://www.bbgfamilylaw.com. I found her to be
compassionate, and very experienced. I highly recommend
I'm trying to find a family law attorney who has
experience working with dissolution of same-sex relationships.
There are children and property involved. Any recommendations
would be appreciated!
frederick hertz in oakland is the best out there. i know
several people who have used him for the dissolution of complex
same sex partnerships involving property and large sums of
money. i used him myself when my partner and i split up -
rather messily - and had to divide our condo in the city, all
of our bank accounts, and devise visitation rights for our
dogs. i don't know his experience with families with children.
he was kind and compassionate with me, and absolutely no
nonsense with the legalities. he explained things very clearly
and gave me real options. i believe his phone number is: (510)
834-4114. he has a website: www.samesexlaw.com.
best of luck, i understand how hard this time can be.
I would recommend Sally J. Elkington. She is a lesbian attorney
who has handled many same sex ''divorces''. She is compassionate,
knows the law and can handle any type of situation which comes up. You can
reach her at 465-0404.
I have reviewed the digest for divorce attorneys, but there
doesn't seem to be anyone who is notably agressive.
My husband has become completely irrational and terrorizing and I
no longer have it in me to stand up for myself. If anyone has any
experience with an honest attorney who will fight like a bull dog
to help me keep my baby I would be quite grateful.
Carol Amyx is an intelligent, detail minded and agressive attorney. Her
phone # is (510)
644-3360. I am in the midst of an acrimonious divorce after almost 15 years
My children's father moved out in March after being depressed for years. He
threatened to move out for months and at the last minute told me I should.
I refused to do
so. He is already living with another woman and did not support me in any
he pushed to sell the house I live in and the children grew up in and was
and blaming in every way. He is savvy and always handled our accounts. I
like I had no power and very ''beaten up'' in my situation. Carol and my
therapist helped me get grounded, educated and confident.We now have a
for family support and it looks like I will stay in my house, thanks to
Carol. However, I am
working 2 1/2 jobs...
Also, I recommend Kids'Turn. It's a 6-week program for divorced, divorcing and
separated families of all kinds. I found it extremely helpful for me and my
The person who wants a b**-busting lawyer should calm down
and first of all post her own e-mail address so that replies can
be made privately. Because for one thing, the law discourages what
she's asking for. In the highly emotional area of family law
especially, the law wants mediation, not confrontation. Though
someone comes to mind, I will not label a lawyer publicly as
That said, how do you find a good lawyer? The Bar
Association's advice is largely useless. Its own list consists of
lawyers who don't get enough business on their own. Your
acquaintances (''word of mouth'') have highly subjective opinions
based on whether they ''won'' or ''lost''.Start with the Yellow Pages'
list of attorneys who are ''certified'' in family law. By telephone,
ask 5 or 6 lawyers to recommend 3 or 4 others. And yes, you can
ask for a b**-buster. See which names keep popping up. Narrow it
down to 3 or 4. Talk to them. Then go down to the clerk's office
in the County Courthouse and use the computer case files to see
which ones have been sued by former clients.
I am not an attorney.
I recommend H Nelson Meeks. He can be reached at 415-989-9915.
But remember that these things take time which can get costly.
My partner went through a very nasty divorce due to his ex wife
and her VERY aggressive and good attorney, Bill Whiting. He was
very powerful and fought hard for everything. He practices in
Contra Costa County. I highly recommend interviewing him if the
jurisdiction works out (I have seen a few of the court tapes and
he was quite hard). I also recommend that you keep as much
visitation time with your baby if that is in question, because
my partner was not able to (for a myriad of reasons at the hands
of his ex - false accusations, etc) and she was able to arrange
a cross-country move BEFORE custody was decided on, and forced
the custody evaluator to give her full custody simply based on
the fact that their daughter had spent more time with her, even
though it was found that there was no foundation for the
accusations. They now live on the East Coast and he can only
see her for limited amounts of time. Try your best to think
ahead of your ex and anticipate the worst.
I highly recommend Joanne Schulman. I have been going through
a divorce for nearly two years from an abuser. She is very
tough (she describes herself as a terrier who doesn't let go)on
him, and at the same time very supportive, personally
involved, and kind to me. My ex has tried all sorts of things
(hiding finances, lying, starvation tactics, you name it), and
she has been great through it all. She has been practicing for
over 25 years, and knows about these guys. We are finally
nearing the end of a very long haul, and it has been worth it.
I plan to stay in touch with her as a friend after this mess is
Her office is in San Francisco, but it is an easy BART ride
(Civic Center stop). Her number is 415-863-5300, ext. 12. Give
her a call!
I am in the process of divorce and have narrowed my selection of
attorney down to two. If anyone has knowledge of or experience
with these either of these two lawyers, please respond: Michael
and Tracy Kaufmann (Oakland).
I've seen the recommendations for others on this site, but for
one reason or another they won't work for me. Thanks!
I am a family law attorney and know both counsel. I have had
cases against Michael Bailey and he is perhaps the nicest lawyer
I have ever had to deal with. Absolutely compassionate, focused
on solutions and steers clear of ramping a case up for fees or
self promotion. I do not know how he does in an ultra-litigious
situation, but he was a really responsive and kind person to
have on the other side of a difficult case. I would imagine
that he is very caring with his clients. I do not get the sense
that he is terribly aggressive, but I think that is actually a
good thing in the eyes of the judiciary.
Tracy I know from out and about. She is funny and very invested
in what she does. She can become very involved in a case - and
very passionate if it is something she believes in. I do not
know the outcome of her cases but she is an intelligent woman
and seems to enjoy what she does. She is also a mother of two
so she can relate.
I may be looking for a new family law attorney, as I am not sure
that the one I am currently working with is strong enough of a
negotiator. My husband has hired a very aggressive attorney.
We have worked out part of our agreement through Eva Herzer, who
is a mediator and very good, but we are getting bogged down and I
want to finalize this emotional mess in as business-like a manner
as possible. I looked on the web-site, but am interested in
mom-of-2 small ones
A friend of mine used Marian Steinbock (not sure of spelling) in
Oakland for her divorce proceedings a couple of years ago. She
said that she really new her stuff, was businesslike, and
strong. She knew what my friend's rights were and made sure my
friend made informed decisions. Good luck and hope that you get
a fair decision!
Also, I hope that this isn't insensitive, I know someone who
needs a very aggressive attorney. Would you mind posting the
name of your husband's lawyer?
I highly recommend Dennis Rothhaar,who is representing me in my
divorce. He is warm, intelligent, experienced, knowledgable, and
aggressive when he needs to be. He has given me a sense of what
to expect throughout this process and has definitely negotiated
well on my behalf. His office is in Oakland and he can be
reached at 510.763.5611.
In the same boat.
my divorce, although very painful, is not contested. I am
doing it myself, following the example of a friend. My situation
is more complicated though, because I have a small child. I do
not know which papers I need to fill out for custody schedules,
and how to find the obbligatory formula for child support that
the state of California requires. Someone knows this
information? Also, someone mentioned that she used a paralegal
to do her divorce, with children, and it costed only $300.
Please, can you tell me name and phone of whom you used? Or how
to find a paralegal with experience in divorce? Thank you very
''How to Do Your Own Divorce in California'' explains it all.
Using it, and it's companion, ''How to Do Your Own
Contested Divorce in California'' I did my own, with rather
complicated issues, and with my wife using an attorney
(who's bills I paid half of, but let's not go there...).
The various non-attorney divorce services were once called
''Typing Services'' since that's about all they can legally do.
they cannot provide you with advice. There are quite a few of
them in the Yellow Pages, I've never used them , but ''Expert
Legal Aid'' on Fruitvale has been there for at least the last 8
years I know of , and longevity is one clue to small business
A Divorced Parent
I need a lawyer who would help me in my divorce and does
not asking alot because I don't have money.
2002, when I filed a divorce, we lived seperately. I wanted to do
divorce by myself but it is getting more difficult for me. He is
responded on the last day; I did preliminary declaration of
assets, etc. He did not responded, asked me for more time.
Then he told me that it is difficult for him to do it and is getting
a lawyer to do it. I don't know what to do now. Please tell
me a person who would help me with a low fee or none. My
salary is not much here.
A good place to check out for a divorce lawyer is Law Center
for Families, who provide free legal services to low-income
clients. Their address is 510 - 16th St. Oakland CA94612
tel: 510 451 9261.
Best of luck,
I need a mediator and/or an attorney to help create a mutually
acceptable legal separation document and then file for divorce. Can anyone
recommend a mediator/attorney who practices family law and is family
friendly and not trying to stir up things for his hourly billings benefit?
This would be your basic non contested divorce but there are tricky
financial and custody issues that we need helpwith from a third party skilled
in Calif. law.
Thanks very much!
Eva Herzer (3)
Try Rachel Ginsburg. Her law office is in downtown Oakland, tel
835-5568. I believe she has a lot of experience in family law.
I recommend Sherman, Williams & Lober. My husband and I, like
you, wanted an attorney just to make sure both of our interests
were equally represented, yet we didn't want the expense and
defensive posturing that a 2 attorney divorce would bring into
our lives. Sherman, Williams & Lober will give you forms to fill
out and if there is a disagreement between your and your spouses
divorce goals, they will mediate. My husband and I
had some sticky issues: child custody, child
support, etc. and they were very helpful and
extremely knowlegable. Congratulations to you for not
buying into the negativity of typical divorces with two opposing
attorneys! NoLo Press recommended this firm (Check out their
site: www.nolo.com). The are in Soquel (near Santa Cruz) but they
don't need to see you face to face. They do phone call consults,
I would highly recommend Karen Heller Berdy, who
practices in Walnut Creek. Karen is very smart (JD and MBA, which helps
immensely in the myriad of financial issues you will face), straightforward,
efficient and is extremely adept at assisting spouses in reaching mutually
agreeable arrangements regarding child sharing. I have recommended her
to several couples and everyone (both husbands and wives) has been
extremely happy with her services.
(April 2003: updated phone number for Karen Heller Berdy: 925/937-0440)
Has anyone had any experience, one way or the other, with any of the following family law attorneys? I am looking for someone to handle a divorce where there are custody issues involving young children.
I'd like to recommend Donna L. Smith, an attorney in Albany.
A parent herself,
she's a tenacious, effective advocate, as well as a gentle soul,
compassionate and easy to talk to
Donna L. Smith, Attorney at Law,
1604 Solano Ave., Berkeley 94707;
Donna is highly intelligent, experienced, sensitive, and easy to talk to. She handles all family law matters, including prenuptials, litigation, mediation, divorce, and custody, and is more than ever committed to a collaborative, nonadversarial approach to divorce and child custody. Melanie
[updated Oct 2004]
I highly recommend Hannah Sims for a family law attorney.
She is extremely knowledgeable, respects your feelings,
and best of all, does what is in the best interest of
the children. I can't say enough great things about her
-- she got our family through a very ugly time
Note from Myriam:
Hannah Sims 2831 Telegraph, 628-0250
For a family law lawyer, try Julie Tracy in SF or Laurie Bonnai, also in SF.
Good luck! -- GB (4/99)
Does anyone have a good recommendation for a divorce attorney who won't
cost a fortune? I've checked the Parents Web Site, but didn't see too many
recent recommendations. I have the UCB Signature Legal Care insurance, if
there are any names from there someone could recommend. Also, does anyone
have any experience using mediation or other alternative services for
preparing papers and drawing up arrangements for an uncontested divorce? As
this is a very painful, but not ugly or angry, divorce, I'm wondering if it
might be cheaper and quicker to bypass attorneys altogether. Any
recommendations or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
My one and
strongest piece of advice is to be sure to make it absolutely clear what
your needs and wants are, no
matter how long it takes. If you are NOT a good advocate for yourself (and
I was not), make sure you
make that clear to your mediator so that she/he will give you time to
gather your forces. Since this
process is between you and your husband (or wife), you have to be your own
lawyer, pleading your own
case. If you cannot make a case as strongly as your husband (or wife), you
will find yourself stuck
with a legal document you aren't happy with.
The one thing to remember is that if you have children, NO settlement is
EVER permanent. You have the
opportunity and the RESPONSIBILITY to change it to reflect changes.
Brigeda Bank, a partner in the family law firm of Fox & Bank (Walnut Creek,
925-933-9000), is excellent. I don't know if her fees will fit your needs,
but she's really great.
I can't recommend an attorney but want to address your questions about
alternatives and bypassing the lawyers. First, I suggest you check out the
Nolo Press website section on divorce at
/www.nolo.com/encyclopedia/div_ency.html?t=001A0000011011999 . It
will help answer many of your questions. Nolo sells do-it-yourself books
that are sufficient to do a very simple divorce. But before going that
route, bear in mind the following important issues:
1) Finality of the divorce: many do-it-yourself divorcing couples fail to
follow through on the paperwork needed to finalize a divorce. Initially
you get what is called an interlocutory (i.e., while the legal action is
pending) decree of divorce. You have to go back to court six months later to
get a final decree or your divorce never legally occurs -- this can cause
major hassles down the road if one spouse remarries.
2) If there are children involved, custody becomes an issue. Even if you
think you and the other parent will always be able to handle these issues,
things change. Get advice. There are many issues you wouldn't think of,
such as whether the custodial parent will be able to move out of state later
with the children, what visitation rights a parent who moves away will have,
and many more.
3) Property division: Many people assume they have no property worth
dividing. This may or may not be true. Equity in a house? Pension
benefits? Potential patent/intellectual property rights? Stock in a start
4) Tax issues. There are tax implications and special (potentially
favorable) rules applicable to the division of property in a dissolution.
There are also deductibility issues relating to child custody -- who gets
the exemption for the child, for example.
In reply to the person needing info re: divorce and legal matters- I used a
paralegal. My divorce
was uncontested so we were able to work it out with a little help with
paperwork. It was easier
and cheaper even though we have a child and had to figure out custody
issues. It ended up
costing about $300. It is better for everyone if you can possibly
cooperate. I know it is hard,
nevertheless. Good luck and best wishes.
We had/have (we are in our final stage) Judith Joshel as our
I can highly recommend her.
One person here on the list already commented on how important it is to be
your own advocate. I, too had some difficulties in this area and felt much
better after consulting another attorney. Judith recommended Eva Herzer in
Kensington, and I was/am VERY happy with her. As the other poster said, she
does mediation, too. My ex also thought that we could do most of the divorce
ourselves and we got the Nolo Press books "How to do your own Divorce" and
to settle Child&Spousal Support". They helped to get informed but nothing
There was still too much emotional stuff going on and a mediator was much
It was years and years ago but I used Sandra Elstead
Wagner at Hardin Cook Loper etc. in Oakland and I thought very highly of
her. Phone 444-3131.
I recommend Jane Kaplan for a family law attorney. Although I am divorcing
via another attorney/mediator (had started with her before moving to
Berkeley), Jane has reviewed my settlement agreement and brainstormed
potential solutions--some things I had never considered. She charges $170/
hr. Good luck and hang in there.
I have an excellent family lawyer to recommend to the person seeking a
divorce counselor: Paul Lewis, Lafayette, 284-7885. He is sensitive,
compassionate and, most importantly, non-adversarial, which I found to
be critical in a situation as stressful as a divorce. You may say I
I'm going through a divorce now and my attorney, Carol Amyx, 1919 Addison
Street, Berkeley, couldn't be better. She requires a $3,000 retainer, but it
looks like I might even get a little money back when all papers are filed. In
any case, the peace of mind I feel with her is well worth the money. 644-3360
I met recently with Margaret Hill on College Avenue who was
recommended earlier in the Digest. I was extremeley impressed and can
be very, very particular about such things. Very quick, low key, easy
to talk with and "very efficient". She is also in Prudential which
makes her services doubly attractive.
A VERY good family lawyer with a sliding scale - Margaret Hill on
College Ave in Berkeley - 549-1800
2 divorce lawyers I would recommend:
Sylvia St. A Keita, 1736 Franklin Street, 10th Floor, Oakland CA 94612
Tel. 510 444 6222, Fax 510 444 1704
Margaret Hill, 2832 College Ave, Berkeley, tel 510 549 1800
From: anonymous (6/98)
Request for info.: to those who recommended attorney Margaret Hill:
I'm in a difficult place with the father of my child. I wonder if you
would mind writing to me privately (giving your address to Ginger) so
I could ask some specific questions about your experience w/ Margaret
Hill. Based on the recommendations from the UCB parents list, I want
to consult w/ her, but have had trouble reaching her by phone (she
hasn't returned my calls). I have a few questions about that, and a
couple of other things. Thanks so much!!
From: anonymous (6/98)
I also had a hard time getting a response from Margaret initially. She
works very independently...a few people share the same office and perhaps
one clerical person (not really sure how it works, but that's what it looks
like). She takes all her messages, as far as I can tell, on her answering
machine. She types things into her computer as you sit in her office.
She's sensible and easy to talk to. She represented me in Contra Costa
County court about 3 weeks ago. It was a hearing on child support
adjustment (initiated by my ex-husband). I felt she handled it very well
and was right on top of all the appropriate angles.
I've worked with her just a short time, and plan to use her to get my
daughter's last name changed, too. On the whole, I'm quite impressed.
From: anonymous (6/98)
To the person asking about Margaret Hill. I actually was one of those who
recommended her (based upon our 1-time experience with her). However, a
friend of mine has subsequently seen her for a child support issue, and she
also had a great deal of trouble getting Hill to return her phone calls. I
would procede with caution at this point, and I might not recommend her
From: anonymous (7/98)
I am going through a divorce and have seen Margaret Hill twice, today being
the second time. I got her name through UCB parents and would like to say
thank you for the recommendation as she has been wonderful.
From: anonymous (7/98)
I'm currently using Margaret Hill as the attorney in my divorce. Yes, she
does take a long time to return calls and is slow on processing papers,
etc. It is a little frustrating. On the other hand, she is very sensible as
someone said and knows her stuff. She was also one of the top three lawyers
recommended to me by a good friend who is also a family/divorce lawyer.
What seemed to get things moving for me was that after calling several
times hoping for a phone conversation, I suggested I come in to meet with
her. She called back and left a message as to when she was available and I
went in the next day. In an hour we completed the marital settlement
agreement and other paperwork to be sent to my husband. But he still hasn't
received it. So I'll put in a few more phone calls.
Since I opted to use the Prudential Legal Care offered through the
University, I found the lawyers available limited. A few I called either no
longer took the insurance or wouldn't take my case if I couldn't guarantee
that it would be straight forward (i.e. no argument from the other side.)
Hill was recommended and accepted the insurance.
Re: Prudential attorney
As mentioned in several other E-mails, I cannot recommend Margaret Hill
highly enough. She is a member of Prudential; very efficient . . . a take
care of business, type but with a very warm down to earth, non-intimidating
style. She listens to her clients, takes their lead, clarifies as needed and
integrates her technical expertise in resolving issues in moving forward.
Not only is she superb, but the several other individuals in her network
that she has referred me to have been of her same calibre.
Her number is: 549-1800 and is on College next to Papyrus.
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