Family Law

Questions & Responses:
Family Law Attorney Wanted(1 response)
Family Lawyer in Contra Costa County(4 responses)
Archived Responses: 

2010 - 2013 Recommendations

Looking for Family Law Specialist in Berkeley

Nov 2012

Hi, I am looking for a recommendation for a Family Law Specialist to obtain advice and/or counsel in Berkeley or North Oakland such as Rockridge or Montclair. I am a single woman who broke up with my boyfriend only to find out that I was pregnant. I am considering giving the baby my last name and I am thinking of not putting the father on the birth certificate. I am wondering the pros and cons of these two actions. Additionally, I want to know what are my rights? What are his rights? Is there anything I can do legally before the baby is born (my due date is February 21, 2013) so that matters are in order. Thanks so very much.

I cannot more highly recommend Hannah Sims who helped me through a very contentious custody dispute. She's practical, settlement oriented, but when she needed to go into litigation mode, she was aggressive, articulate, and clearly well-known and liked by the judges, other lawyers, and courthouse staff. She's hilarious, too. She can be reached at (510) 628-0250 Anon

Family Law - Parental authority undermined by others

July 2012

I could use a Family Lawyer for advice about my 16 year old son and his (so called) girlfriends Family undermining my lifestyle, beliefs and parental authority for over a year and counting. This other Family is a family of UNSCHOOLERS that pop XANAX, both parents are 20years dry drunks and in AA. They have basically adopted my son as they already have 2 at risk adopted children ( one of them being my son's GF) The conflict between me (single mother) and this other Family has disabled my son to such an extreme point that CPS/SARB/CARC/CHSPE/TRUANCY COURT/SST and a year of therapy at Huckleberry House has done little to help shake this family another words leave me and my son alone. It is very important that my son move on and peruse his own ambitions that appear to be lost due to the addictive qualities/personalities that this other Family extended upon my son. I am in need of free or low cost Legal Advice. Thank you BPN folks, Lisa

I wanted to share a recommendation to the BPN parent who was asking about a Family Law Lawyer. As a single mom dealing with another parent who is undermining my parental authority with our 13 year old daughter, Janice Cho has been thoughtful, warm hearted, a great listener and most importantly a savvy family law attorney who has provided excellent legal support to me during a very difficult time. Janice is accessible, skilled, extremely knowledgeable and quick to respond to all my concerns and questions with kindness, professionalism and sound legal advice. She has made this very challenging time in my life so much more manageable to navigate. I would whole heartedly recommend Janice to you Lisa and to all others who might be looking for an excellent family law lawyer. Due to the sensitive nature of my current on-going situation, I have chosen to not post my name and contact information. I hope things work out well for you Lisa. Best of luck. In Gratitude.

Seeking Contra Costa County Family Law Lawyer

May 2011

Please suggest a top-notch family law lawyer to represent me in my custody/guardianship case in Contra Costa County. I am especially seeking one who is very experienced in this particular county family court system. Thank you for your assistance. anonymous

Check out Rachael Burley in Pleasant Hill: She specializes in Family Law. Good luck! anonymous

Kathryn S. Korn esq. Work (925)253-1136 E-Mail Kathryn [at] 93 Moraga Way Suite 101 Orinda, CA 94563 Elder law and family law. Very familiar with Contra Costa courts. For our family she managed a minor miracle. -Good Luck!

Pre-nuptial agreement

May 2010

A relative is looking for reputable bay area attorney to draft a pre-nuptual agreement. Any recommendations? Many thanks.

I usually recommend that couples start with a book called Prenuptial Agreements, from Nolo Press; it also comes with a software program to help the couple draft the initial agreement together based on their discussions. That helps to reduce the cost considerably, since attorneys charge by the hour! My own rate is $175/hour, for instance, and I find that couples who use this book before meeting with me tend to spend only 1-3 hours with me; otherwise, it can be much much more time.

Once the two people have created something that they both like, it's time for each of them to engage an attorney. In California, a prenuptial agreement is not legally valid unless EACH person has an independent attorney review it and sign off.

Finally, let your relative know that it's better to start this process early. The last thing that anyone wants is to be signing the pre-nuptial agreement in the last days before the wedding! Kathleen

You should try Doris Figman in Oakland. She works with a friend of mine. She is pretty reasonable and can be reached at dorisfigman [at] Jon

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Need family lawyer, navigating CPS

Aug 2009

I need to find a family lawyer who has experience navigating the CPS system on behalf of a 5 year old who was recently molested. I would be *very* grateful for a recommendation! anon

My heart goes out to you. While I have experience dealing with the court system in a matter such as yours, we didn't hire an attorney and the case was handled by the DA. There were many times I wish we HAD hired an attorney. You are wise to do so.

If you ever need someone to talk with about this... being a non-offending parent in a CSA case is so incredibly hard... feel free to email me. Support groups for us are few and far between (at least my thorough searching yielded only one in our area).

Family lawyer to advise about CPS

May 2008

Child Protective Services received two reports of our kindergarten-aged daughter's misbehavior which led them to suspect she is being molested. They want to put her through a ''forensic interview'' by someone who is trained at this. We are considering refusing this request on the grounds that the reports are unsubstantiated, anonymous, lacking in detail (from our point of view), not to mention that we believe the social worker's suspicions are unfounded. We have asked our daughter about it in detail. Our daughter says she has not been touched inappropriately by anyone, that she doesn't know why people keep asking her about this (the social worker already interviewed her twice at school without our prior knowledge or consent) and she says she does not want to be interviewed any more.

The social worker say that ''it will look bad for us'' and ''she will write us up'' if we don't comply with the interview request. She doesn't care that our daughter denies any molestation and doesn't want to be interviewed any more. Can anyone recommend a family lawyer in the Berkeley area who could advise us of our rights and help us write CPS a letter of protest? We would also appreciate comments or advice from anyone who has been put through anything like this. Many thanks in advance.

Try Jed Somit. He's very aggressive in defending men accused of molesting their children or stepchildren, regardless of the circumstances. Good luck to your child

In my opinion, CPS functions in a way that is almost as draconian as is the IRS. There are many instances where CPS has either ignored true child abuse with tragic results, or has savaged parents who are totally blameless. I would recommend resisting the ''interview'' and hiring a good attorney to deal with those people ASAP. I recommend Frank Presto, in Pleasanton, who has experience in both Family Law and criminal law. Robert A. Fink, M. D. rafink [at]

I cannot refer you to an attorney as I don't know of any, but my advice is to go to the forensic interview. And stop pumping your daughter for info. The interviewers are SPECIALISTS and do not traumatize the kids at all. In fact, they are trained to NOT retraumatize. Truly, what do you have to lose by her going to it? And what if she has been sexually abused? Wouldn't you want to know? Sorry, but as the parent of two sexually abused kids I really don't understand why you are fighting this. CPS definitely takes it as a sign of hiding something. And if something comes out could be charged with failure to protect. The problem with child sex abuse is that most often the children do not disclose and the abuse continues. It is the silence that perpetuates the cycle. And I would recommend that you get a really good therapist for your daughter. I would also ask what sorts of behaviors she has been displaying. It really takes a lot for teachers to report. M! y kids didn't tell until the abuse had been going on for years. My daughter finally told when she was 4 and had been being molested for 2 yrs. My son still will not tell... but we know because of the perpetrator's confession. If you want any ideas on great kids' therapists, I have interviewed many and can probably give you some good leads. Feel free to email me.

I'm not a lawyer, but I've worked in CPS in Santa Clara County for 8 years. I have a friend who worked in Monterey County CPS who has her JD in addition to LCSW and is studying for the bar currently. If you want to email me offline, you can ask me questions and I can forward them to my friend. I would ask you for more info on the symptoms your daughter exhibited at school. Most kids will not tell their parents if they have been molested, because the perp can play some major mindgames on kids to prevent them from doing so. A parental interview is not going to be considered very credible. My advice would be to take your daughter to your own private therapist/psychologist for assessment/treatment, provide CPS with documentation that your daughter is attending, and they will very likely back off, because you're taking care of the problem yourself. I would recommend a therapist who is trained in Theraplay, Dyadic Developmental Therapy, or Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behaviora! l Therapy, depending on your daughter's type of behaviors which are of concern. Unfortunately, one in three girls will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. My daughter, whom I adopted from foster care, was removed from her birth family for this very reason, 4 years later continues to exhibit behavioral and emotional symptoms of sexual abuse, but if I ask her about being sexually abused by her family members, she will continue to deny it. I certainly hope that your daughter did not experience any trauma or abuse, but if a child has had traumatic experiences, the sooner she receives appropriate treatment, the sooner she can start the healing process and the less it will impact her life and adult relationships. Andrea

I don't have a recommendation for a family law attorney, but I will tell you what the attorney is likely to say. You as a parent really don't have a right to refuse to let your child be interviewed. State law gives CPS the authority to interview your child without your consent. As for whether the report to CPS was unsubstantiated or anonymous, you really don't have access to the files. So you don't know what info they do have. When CPS gets a report, they assess it, and if they feel there is sufficient evidence to warrant investigation, they will investigate. If I were in your shoes, I would just let them do the interview. Are you SURE that your daughter hasn't been the victim of someone? know a little about CPS

Family law attorney needed, ASAP

May 2008

Hello, I unfortunately need a family law attorney, and soon. My DD's non-custodial parent, whom I find difficult to communicate with at best, has now gone bonkers and is communicating only through an attorney. So, I need to hire one myself ASAP. Looking for someone: sharp, competent, quick wit, excellent communicator, practices in Alameda County. Either male or female, just a bright, ''knows their stuff'', straightforward kind of person. I didn't see any recent postings on the web site, so am looking for recent experiences with a family law attorney that may be able to provide expertise & competence, but soon! (Or, if you have the names of persons you'd avoid, I'd like to hear about those too). Thank you, Need legal representation

Call Kathy Perkins at 925.283.7938. She is located in Lafayette, but goes to court all over. She has years of experience and is extremely bright, forthright, high integrity and passionate about helping her clients get what they need. She works really hard and you'll be well represented. Anonymous

I know this is a tough situation but i don't think it's right that you have to hire an attorney. You can still try to communicate with your ex and direct him to mediation or some other route. You can send him a letter saying you don't want to fight because you have read that kids from divorced homes that go through life well are the ones whose parents never put them in between. Or you could write his sisters or brothers or parents or involve his friends. You can do so many things to persuade him to stay out of court (to stay away from fighting lawyers, who zap all your money and emotional energy). I know that may not sound possible right now but it was for me. I read some websites about how damaging litigation is for kids and i pleaded with my former spouse to go to mediation (he had already hired an attorney) and he finally agreed. Maybe it's not always possible but it was for me. I hope it works out well for you, whatever route you choose. jess

Family Law Attorney near Walnut Creek

March 2008

Looking for a great recommendation for a Family Law Attorney in the Eastbay. I would prefer the Walnut Creek area, but definitley open to any surrounding areas. Thanks! Susan

I would recommend Larry Rosen. He's a mediator (also an attorney), and helped me through a very tough divorce--so that it wasn't nearly as tough. He's in oakland (other side of the tunnel!) and SF. 415-356-9834. BB

Hi, I'm happy to recommend a friend, Lillian Epstein, who is warm, bright, and empathic, and now in her own family law practice in Berkeley. Lilian Epstein 510-868-3302 lilian[at] Good Luck

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Experienced family law attorney

Oct 2006

Looking for an attorney highly experienced in family law, custody. Thank you

I have tremendous appreciation for my family law attorney, Mary Oaklund, who has won multiple court judgements for me and my kids (custody and schooling issues) through her legal wisdom, sharp wit, and silver tongue (no dirty play). These successes are especially notable in that she has been up against an attorney who other lawyers seem to detest dealing with because of her nastiness (not the legal term, I suppose) and legal subterfuge. I highly recommend Mary Oaklund 483-6047 I'm so glad I found her.

2005 Recommendations

Nov 2005

I am looking for a good family law attorney. I need someone to review my divorce papers and let me know what my rights are when it comes to my Golden Retriever, Jake. I appreciate any recommendations. Erin

Divorce is pretty messy. When I started grad school in the engineering department my spouse became, shall we say, unsupportive. We decided to part ways since I wanted to get a PhD, and she wanted me to work for real money. Sigh... But I did manage to find a good divorce attorney. I called a good deal of the San Francisco family law attorneys, and didn't really click with anyone. When I finally got to the 'Law Offices of Jessica Watson' I had a noticeably different experience. She answered my questions rather than waiting for her turn to speak. She told me upfront what her rates were, which I couldn't get from others. She gave me references to look up and made me feel that I would be part of the process. I'm a control freak, so I really appreciated her catering to my special needs. I didn't feel like Ms. Watson was going to stamp a number on my case and put in a boilerplate performance. Felt very my case, my life, was important. I appreciated that.

So, a high recommendation to the Law Office of Jessica Watson. The webpage is here: her website says they specialize in divorce, adoption, and dependency. -Pascal

June 2005

I am looking for an attorney that specializes in child support. Not to go into too much detail, my husband is having to go to court for ''contempt''. He had been paying child support regularly until he lost his job back in October. He now has a job and has started paying as of May, but he still received a letter ordering him to go to court. Is there an attorney out there that helps the fathers????? anon

A really good lawyer is David Wong. His number is 510 868 1716. His rates are reasonable and he is smart, aggressive, and is very professional. Greg

June 2005

I'm pretty sure my ex is underreporting his considerable income and I'm looking for an attorney who is skilled in financial investigation and aggressive as well as being a relatively decent human being. Don't know if I can get all of that in one package but I've been turned off by the few attys I've interviewed so far, who seem competent and high-powered in legal matters but cold and indifferent as people and contemptuous of my child-centered values. I don't expect my lawyer to be my friend but can't imagine working with someone who can't muster some semblance of kindness. Scorned Nurturer

I have used Lori Wallerstein, recommended here, to investigate hidden assets. She left no stone unturned and found things in Europe as well as California. Still don't know how she did it. She is also an attorney but focuses only on investigations and business advising. She is at One Embarcadero is SF at 415-773- 2821. She is very easy to talk to and empathetic. Pretty funny too. She would probably help you find a lawyer you can work with. Good luck

2004 Recommendations

Sept 2004

I am looking for an lawyer who specializes in family law, in the East Bay. Mom in need

I know someone who is a psychologist and arbitrator in family law and no doubt knows lawyers in that business. She is a personal friend of mine so I don't feel comfortable putting her contact info on a public forum but if you're interested you can contact me and I'll share her e-mail with you directly. ilona

I would recommend that you speak to Through Understanding (and Larry Rosen). He's a lawyer and mediator. Essentially, he helps couples find a way to divorce in a harmonious way. I saw some really positive posts about him on Berekeley Parent's Network a few months back and then called with a little skepticism. My (soon-to-be-ex) husband and I have now met with him twice and I can't tell you how helpful it's been for us. My husband had an affair a year ago and I though I really don't want much of a relationship at all with him, I don't want to fight either. I mean I want what's best for my kids, which is for us to co-parent and at least respect each other, even if we're apart. Larry has helped us move far away from intense anger. My husband has ''heard'' me for the first time in so many years. And I don't forgive him but I do understand him better now, which is interesting. We've put in place some temporary agreements which we plan to finalize in the months to cmoe, and i just feel better about my life. Larry is pretty talented and generous person. He is a lawyer but not in the traditional sense, i guess. I've actually been really looking foward to posting this note for a long time. Jane ps His web Address is

[editor: additional reviews about Through Understanding

Jan 2004

This is a bit far afield, but can anyone recommend a good family law attorney in the Sacramento area? anon this time

I can highly recommend a close friend of mine's mother, Camille Hemmer, who has a family law practice in Sacramento. I have not had experience with her professionally, but can extrapolate from my experience with her as a person, that she would be a good choice. Her phone number is 916/920-9504 and address: 797 University Ave. Sacramento, CA 95825.

Try Barbara Bender at Stein & Baydaline. I don't know how much family law she does, but she did our family trusts. She's very straightforward and nothing surprises her - I'd describe her as worldly. If she doesn't do family law, she could at least point you in the right direction for the Sacramento area. Her email address is: bbender [at] Good luck. Sharon

We have used Attorney Hugh Allen who is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is in Rancho Cordova phone 916-852-0222. If you are looking for an attorney to fight for you he is the person to have. We won our case with him which was a real miracle. He is tough but extremely good. I would recommend him very highly. JH

2003 & Earlier

2003 Recommendations

Dec 2003

Does anyone have any experiences with David Bunn, who is a family law attorney in Berkeley? I am looking for someone who is obviously knowledgeable, able to negotiate well, yet caring/understanding with his clients. It seems difficult to evaluate good attorneys in this field, and your feedback will be most appreciated. Anon. Richard Hill, on 5th Street in Berkeley, is the top of the heap when it comes to Trusts and Estates law. He can do the most simplest of trusts to more complicated scenarios of estate protection and division. His pedigree is impeccable, he was the trusts and estates person for Morrison and Forrester (sp?) for many years, he has a lovely personality, and he does not watch the clock, scrupulously. Many attorneys use him, which is really the highest possible endorsement. And,good for you for taking care of business. Richard Hill Fan

I don't know anything about David Bunn. However I used to practice family law and can recommend a good family law attorneys and mediators in the East Bay.
Lawyers: Susan Bender 832-1411 Ann Fallon 925-296-6000 Margaret Gannon 452-1700 Cynthia Podren 849-9008 Dennis Rothhaar 763-5611 Family law Mediators: Eva Herzer 526-5144 Martina Reaves 559-2685 Mediator for intergenerational/cultural family issues: Adele Grunberg 530-9049

Oct 2003

hi, I need to find a family lawyer who has experience with how the Child Protective Services system works. There is an ongoing CPS investigation which is supposed to determine whether my toddler is being sexually abused. Because my child is young, CPS has been slow to come to any conclusions, and their investigation, though still open, has been completely inactive over the past couple of months. I haven't found a way to stop my child's other parent from visiting my child (unsupervised visits are court ordered and still ongoing). I need to find someone who can help me work with CPS and the family court services system to come up with a visitation schedule that is not a risk to my young child. I would sincerely appreciate any leads you might be able to give me. anonymous

Here's a quote from a lawyer I know [I asked about your concern]:

''Sounds to me like this person's case is in Family Court, and a Family Court judge has ruled it premature to have supervised visits. In cases such as this, there is usually dirt on both sides..... And since every case keeps the same judge throughout, judges know the case history pretty well.

The only way to get CPS moving is for the person to motivate the Family Court Services mediator handling her case, or, provide evidence something new has occurred. However, given CPS speed of late, if something new happens, I would file an Emergency Screening before a judge instead.

Another CPS thought: Unfortunately, the budget cutbacks have slashed resources and staff. So, the person needs to phone and write letters regularly.

However, once the person gets before a judge again, she/he really needs to pin the judge down to reasons why the current custody order remains in place.''

I hope it helps. -anon