Berkeley Parents Network >
Legal & Financial Services >
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.
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.
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.
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 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
this page was last updated: Sep 6, 2009
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network