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Options For How To Begin Your Family Law Process

If you are facing divorce or another family law matter, you should start by understanding what your options are for navigating the legal process. Based in San Francisco, attorney and mediator Lisa J. Auer believes it is best to resolve divorce and other family law issues outside of court whenever possible. No matter which process you use, the aim is to reach a resolution that satisfies your goals and interests and the needs of your family. Lisa will help you reach a resolution as efficiently and amicably as possible. The process that’s best for you will depend on the circumstances of your case and how well you and the other party are able to work together, even though you will be dealing with difficult emotions and decisions. Each process has its advantages and disadvantages, and Lisa can help you decide which option is the best fit for you.

  • Self-representation (“do-it-yourself”): Some couples going through divorce or dissolution of domestic partnership can work out all issues related to property division, support and custody on their own. This process is generally best suited for relatively straightforward cases, where the parties trust each other and share information and can communicate effectively to work out their differences. Even if you are working on a self-directed settlement, it is a good idea to consult with a family law attorney so you have an understanding of what the law would provide and for assistance with preparing or reviewing the settlement agreement and forms that are required for your stipulated judgment to be entered by the court to finalize your dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership. If this process is a good fit for you, Lisa J. Auer can assist you as a consulting attorney.
  • Mediation: In mediation, the parties work with a neutral third-party mediator who helps them negotiate an agreement. Mediation is a voluntary process, and the mediator and the parties agree on how they will work together. The mediator does not give legal advice or recommend a solution, but helps the parties with communicating, identifying their own needs and interests, understanding the other side’s perspective, and brainstorming and evaluating options. Mediation is generally not a good fit if the parties don’t trust each other to be forthcoming with information or if one person is intimidated by the other spouse or partner or there is a substantial knowledge or power imbalance in the relationship. Successful mediation requires that both parties be able to express themselves and be willing to listen to and try to understand the other side and come up with creative solutions. In most family law cases, the parties meet with the mediator on their own, but have their own consulting attorneys to advise them as needed. Lisa J. Auer enjoys working as both a mediator and a consulting attorney for parties in mediation.
  • Collaborative practice: Collaborative practice is a relatively new process that addresses the legal, emotional and financial aspects of divorce or dissolution of domestic partnership in a supportive way without going to court. Collaborative practice uses a team-based approach to problem solving and focuses on the needs of the whole family. Each party works with a specially trained collaborative attorney. The team can also include mental health professionals who serve as communications coaches and child specialists, financial experts and other professionals as needed. The team agrees at the outset that the issues will be resolved without litigation. If either party decides to end the collaborative process and proceed with litigation, the attorneys and other professionals withdraw from the case. You might choose collaborative practice rather than mediation if you want your lawyer to be present with you at meetings, you could use help with communication and, if you have children, you want their needs to be considered as an integral part of the process. As with self-directed settlement and mediation, collaborative practice requires information sharing and a level of trust between the parties. If you are interested in collaborative practice, Lisa J. Auer can explain the process more fully and serve as your collaborative attorney.
  • Traditional representation: With traditional family law representation, your lawyer will communicate and negotiate on your behalf, prepare and file any necessary paperwork with the court, and in some cases, appear with you in court if needed. In many cases, it is possible to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without any court intervention. The parties may agree to work with a mental health professional to mediate parenting and custody issues, while working with their attorneys to resolve the financial issues. In some cases, the parties reach an impasse on one or more issues that might need to be submitted to a judge for decision. Very few family law cases require a full trial. You might choose traditional representation if you are not comfortable negotiating directly with your spouse or partner or if you need assistance from a lawyer in getting access to all of the information you need to make decisions about your divorce or dissolution. Or your spouse or partner may have already chosen a lawyer and be unwilling to agree to mediation or collaborative practice. Lisa J. Auer is available to work with you as a consulting or limited scope attorney and will do her best to help you reach a settlement through negotiation. If litigation becomes necessary, Lisa can refer you to an experienced family law litigator and help transition your case.

Discuss Your Family Law Matter With Us

Picking the process you’ll use to resolve your divorce or other family law matter and choosing a professional to work with are two of the most important decisions you need to make. To learn more about how Lisa J. Auer can help you, contact her online or call 415-766-0122.