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What is Family Law?
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Divorce on a Budget
About Heather M.D. Green


Practicing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including:
San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties.

  Divorce on a Budget
  Finances are tight for many of us these days. If this is an issue for you, here are some possibilities to consider:

  • Go "in pro per": This means to do it yourself.
    • The upside is that you do not hire an attorney. Note that there will still be Court costs, and other expenses, even if you do not hire an attorney. Also, the Court may require you to pay some or all of your spouse's attorney's fees, depending on your case.
    • The downside is that Family Law is relatively complicated, and you may overlook rights you have. For example, you may not know how much of your spouse's retirement plan you are entitled to, or how to get it.

  • Mediate: This means that both parties go to one attorney, who helps them reach an agreement about all or some of their case. The mediator can inform both parties about their rights, and draft the agreement, but does not represent either party. It is best to use someone who is very experienced in Family Law.
    • If both parties want to settle, this can be a relatively quick way to get through the process. You may pay significantly less in legal fees, compared to the cost of protracted litigation.
    • However, if you cannot negotiate with your spouse, or if one of you is not really interested in settling, this may not be the route for you.

  • Get Collaborative Law Representation: In Collaborative Law practice, each party has their own attorney, but the attorneys' job is only to negotiate, not to litigate.
    • Like Mediation, both parties must be interested in settling their case, and both parties must agree to Collaborative Law in order to use this option.
    • Collaborative Law provides more support to each party, as each party has their own attorney.

  • Get Advisory Counsel: An attorney acting as advisory counsel does not become the attorney of record in your case: instead, you bring your file to the attorney's office, and she gives you advice as to how you can proceed. You then draft the legal documents, and appear at Court by yourself. Because advisory counsel does not prepare your pleadings or make court appearances for you, you may end up paying your attorney less in legal fees than if you were fully represented.
    • If you are good at public speaking, and think quickly on your feet, this may be a good option for you.

  • Get Limited Scope Representation: This is where you hire an attorney only for one or more specified issues, and you are responsible for the rest. For example, you might want the attorney to appear at Court on your behalf only for an up-coming child custody hearing, or a hearing to determine how much you owe in support arrearages. Or you might want an attorney only to figure out what percentage of the family home is yours. The issues included in a limited scope representation can be anything that you and your attorney agree to.
    • Be sure to discuss with your attorney which issues are most important, and which would be difficult for you to handle alone. The more your attorney knows about your case, the better he or she can advise you.

Note that nobody can predict how much your divorce will cost, regardless of which option you choose.






All information provided on this site is for general information and illustration only, and does not constitute legal advice regarding your specific case. This information may not apply outside the state of California, and may not apply to your case due to your specific situation. No attorney-client relationship is formed unless you meet with Ms. Green and sign a retainer agreement.

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Heather M. D. Green
660 Fourth St #343
San Francisco, CA 94107
Telephone: 925-416-2020
Facsimile: 925-416-2010