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Family Law & Mediation

Private Divorce and Family Mediation

Paula provides confidential and private mediation services to couples who wish to resolve their disputes in a more collaborative and less hostile forum than court litigation. Paula mediates disputes at many different stages of a dissolution and also serves as a Settlement Conference Judge for the court as a last effort at informal resolution before a case goes to trial. However, in her experience, the earlier a couple engages in mediation, the stronger chance there is of coming to a mutually satisfying and beneficial result. This is often based on the contentious and emotional fight that can take place when children, the family home and other important assets and interests are at stake. Litigation can be lengthy and costly and often serves only to increase the level of negative feelings between a divorcing couple. Paula is typically able to save a couple thousands of dollars in fees by keeping the case out of court and by working collaboratively with the parties and in other cases with their attorneys as well.

Mediation empowers couples to work together collaboratively to control the decisions that are being made about important issues that will affect the family for many years, to obtain faster resolution of all issues and to move the case more quickly toward final resolution. There are many benefits of mediating all types of case; family-related matters are particularly well-suited for mediation because of the personal nature of the issues in dispute. A confidential mediation allows the parties to work to find solutions without public court hearings and trials and allows the parties to retain more of their community estate because they are not paying their respective lawyers to fight each issue in court.

Legal Representation in Family Law Matters: Paula works with husbands, wives, mothers and fathers to provide legal advice to ensure that the best possible result is reached in a divorce or other family law matter. Paula is experienced in providing the following Family Law services: Pre-Nuptial Agreements (also known as Pre-Marital Agreements or Ante-Nuptial Agreements), Post-Marital Agreements(or Postnuptial Agreements), Marital Settlement Agreements and other Property Agreements, Dissolutions of Marriages (Divorce), Parentage Actions, Domestic Partnerships, Legal Separations and Inter-State Custody and Child Support issues.

Paula is a volunteer Family Law attorney with the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Volunteer Legal Services Program, which provides pro bono representation to low-income families in the Bay Area for dissolutions of marriage, custody and child and spousal support matters. If you believe you may qualify for pro bono services, please contact the Bar Association of San Francisco at www.sfbar.org.

Family Law disputes and Divorce cases are particularly well-suited to mediation not only because of the very private nature of these disputes, but also because of the extreme emotional strain caused by prolonged litigation in these cases.

In addition to the parents’ stress, children also suffer enormously when their parents are divorcing or arguing over custody and financial issues; the children’s needs should be paramount in any domestic dispute.

Private mediation provides an option to divorcing families or families embroiled in a custody dispute to have these issues mediated and resolved as quickly and as privately as possible with the least amount of disruption and ongoing uncertainty.

Sensitive and often complex financial issues can be openly discussed and resolved within the privacy of a confidential mediation without media or other unwanted attention, particularly in high profile dissolutions.

Private & Confidential Mediation

Ms. Lawhon provides confidential mediation services in all Family Law and Divorce-related matters in the privacy of her own on-site mediation facilities.

Ms. Lawhon serves as a mediator for the Mediation Services of the Bar Association of San Francisco, which is administered in cooperation with San Francisco Superior Court’s ADR program. Ms. Lawhon serves as an arbitrator for the San Francisco Bar Association and California State Bar Fee Dispute Programs.

Ms. Lawhon currently provides mediation services in Divorce and other Family Law matters.

Filing Paperwork in a Divorce Mediation Case

One unique aspect of Divorce mediation is that the mediator helps the parties file the necessary paperwork to begin and finalize the parties’ dissolution in court without the parties ever having to step foot in the courtroom themselves.

A second unique aspect of Divorce mediation is that the parties are generally required to have their own independent attorney review the marital settlement agreement before it is finalized and sent in to the court with the remaining judgment paperwork by the mediator. Although many parties are reluctant to hire an independent attorney to review the agreement that the parties and the mediator prepared together based on the parties’ own agreements, this final step of having reviewing counsel helps to ensure that both parties are adequately represented and therefore helps assure the enforceability of such an agreement later on.

Mediation of Prenuptial Agreements

There are many things couples can do to protect their rights and their separate assets before it becomes an issue or before a Divorce or Separation. Discussing these issues before the marital or domestic partnership relationship is formed is the best method of preventing drawn out legal battles in the event of a Divorce or Separation.

Discussing these issues early can also help couples think about and discuss their financial issues to help protect the marital relationship and avoid the financial difficulties that often are one of the causes of Divorce.

Premarital or Post-Marital Mediation is somewhat like financial counseling. Individuals who have taken the time to understand and shape their own unique property arrangements and financial partnership together are more confident about their financial roles in the relationship and do not have the uncertainty of the unknown in the event of a divorce. A Property Agreement like this is like an insurance policy that protects both parties equally and does not favor one party over the other. These issues are explained in mediation and also by independent reviewing/consulting attorneys.

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