San Mateo Divorce Lawyers

“Sometimes a good outcome is very clear – getting a restraining order against an abusive spouse, or getting spousal support against a spouse who’s hiding income. Other times, a good outcome is far more nuanced. Without fail, all of our best outcomes, our big wins, come about because only one side did the work. And a big, big part of that is deeply understanding the people involved and what makes them tick.”

Amy Laughlin

An explanation of terms: Divorce refers to the legal dissolution of a marriage contract between two people. Complex divorce involves a high net worth couple, two people whose income and assets are substantially higher than average, often leading to more property to discover, untangle and divide.

Your divorce has long term consequences.
Deciding to divorce is a deeply personal and consequential decision that will impact the rest of your life, your partner’s life, and the lives of your children. Best to choose a legal partner who you feel comfortable with, who shares your values, and makes you feel heard and engaged; a divorce lawyer who’s as skilled at listening as they are at advising.

Whenever feasible, divorcing couples should consider private mediation.
Private mediation is currently surging in the US. As it should be. When compared to the cost and lingering acrimony of litigation, mediation is a brilliant place to start. It permits couples to negotiate in private, outside of the public court setting, and ultimately exercise greater control over the outcome of their divorce. Collaborative law is a second alternative to litigation practiced at Laughlin Legal.

Private judging – a brilliant alternative to public court.
The post-pandemic backlog of court cases waiting their turn to be heard has made it even more challenging to resolve disputes quickly and efficiently. An alternative is hiring a private judge to hear your case. Both parties agree to retain a neutral person as a private judge, often a former judge, who’s available to hear your case promptly. Speed of resolution is an advantage to private judging, and yet another is the ability to choose a judge with expertise in the practice area of the dispute.

Hi-tech and hi-touch.
Like most things, all law firms are on a spectrum. On one end, you’ve got the factory firms. They run on volume. Client in, client out, bill, bill, bill. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got firms like ours. To us, every client is a one-of-a-kind individual who deserves a personalized solution. We offer clients the unusual pairing of hi-tech with hi-touch, unusual but harmonious, bringing together cutting edge tech solutions to streamline cases and make room for timeless personalized client service.

Founder, Amy Laughlin, a highly regarded divorce & family lawyer, believes that ‘family emergencies are every bit as urgent as medical ones.’ She will give you her cell phone number and she will take your call. And the whole team will be with you every step of the way.

Laughlin Legal is a team of accomplished, top rated divorce & family law attorneys, and some of the best divorce lawyers in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.


requires the services of a divorce lawyer and addresses all the same issues as divorce regarding asset division, custody, and support, but the couple remains married though living separate and apart.

is the process of determining the status of the assets, then dividing them up equitably between the divorcing spouses. There are generally two categories of assets. Marital assets are those accumulated over the duration of the marriage.

are those acquired after the marriage but before legal separation or divorce.

are gifts or inheritances, or assets acquired either before the marriage or after legal separation. Be warned: assets aren’t the only thing considered to be marital. Debt, too, can be divided and shared.

can be a significant consideration when determining asset division. For instance, claiming children as dependents, or capital gains tax from selling a property.

formerly known as alimony, is what one spouse may be ordered to pay to the other spouse. Even recipients of spousal support have an obligation to attempt to become self-supporting within a reasonable period. This is one of the most contentious aspects of divorce and it’s essential to work with an experienced spousal support lawyer to achieve a fair resolution.

refers to the determination of how the parents divide the rights and responsibilities of taking care of their child or children. A good child custody lawyer will tell you there are two types of custody, legal and physical, and advise you on the best options for gaining or retaining custody of your child or children. The legal custodian makes important decisions for the children and their welfare. The physical custodian lives with the children more than 50% of the time.

in California is calculated using a statutory or guideline formula that considers parents’ gross income from all sources, number of children, amount of time children spend with each parent, tax filing status, and special needs of the children. When a parent refuses to pay child support, a child support lawyer either seeks an order for child support or holds the ex-spouse legally responsible for inadequate or missing payments.

are orders issued by the court – such as temporary child custody orders or temporary spousal support orders – before the case goes to trial to establish boundaries and maintain the family’s status quo until a final divorce and/or custody agreement is entered and approved by the court.

couples have the same divorce rights as any couple, and there may be special considerations with parental and property rights.

though prevalent, is often difficult to prove in part because abusers can be stealthy but also because physical violence is just one of many forms. For instance, it’s challenging to prove verbal abuse without witnesses. It’s essential that victims of abuse work with an experienced domestic violence lawyer successful at obtaining restraining orders.

What’s the best way to resolve your divorce dispute?
Laughlin Legal’s attorneys are skilled at the three primary approaches to resolving a divorce dispute.

Mediation is a strategy that provides the couple with a neutral third-party mediator to help them resolve issues and reach a final settlement agreement. It is typically faster and less expensive than litigation provided both couples are willing to negotiate and compromise. Laughlin Legal’s divorce attorneys are also skilled mediators providing divorce mediation services to our clients.

Litigation is the approach taken when a couple either won’t or can’t resolve their issues out of court. Each partner retains a divorce attorney to advise and represent them as they try to reach a final settlement agreement. If they cannot, they turn to a judge to resolve the dispute for them in court. 

Collaborative law is where each partner hires a collaborative lawyer to represent them, help them resolve their issues, and reach a final settlement agreement. Both partners and both lawyers sign an agreement to authentically pursue a collaborative resolution and not pursue litigation during the collaborative process. Though it’s typically faster and less expensive than litigation, it’s more expensive than mediation because it requires that both parties hire lawyers.

Case Story

A Complex Divorce Client In Their Own Words

“Found them on Google search. I interviewed other attorneys. It’s an important decision and my case was complicated enough that I wasn’t going to just go off a website. I chose them for a couple reasons. I was ideally interested in someone whose offices were fairly local, didn’t want to go up to San Francisco. Also, I had a lot to sort through financially and saw that Amy was experienced with complex divorce. She impressed me with the range of cases she worked on, I felt she ‘got’ my situation. And it was a positive that she was a woman. A woman’s perspective and the perception of my then-partner would be a plus.

The experience surpassed my expectations. It was mediated so we managed to stay out of court. Amy provided really good counsel. I felt confident in her expertise. She was aggressive when needed and flexible when needed. I felt a high level of competence. Their working style was very important to me. Other thing, too, I only half joke about this but being a family law attorney is also part therapist, the ability to help me be centered throughout the process was important.

Their team approach was important. Both good thought partners and that’s important for me. I don’t just outsource stuff, I like to think things through. Not all attorneys like that. Caitlin was able to step in and help out on a couple of issues. I used Caitlin for the prenup because she’s really good. She did a really good job.

Responsiveness is key. Other attorneys I’ve worked with have hard boundaries – after 5 or on the weekends? Not available. When Amy was on vacation she still called in. That was great. And Caitlin made herself available nights, weekends, and I really appreciated that.

These cases can be frustrating. They helped me successfully navigate two fairly tricky marital situations, divorce and prenup, neither of which was easy and do it in a way that got good solutions. They did a great job.

Flexible, responsive. Put in a good fight. Focused on trying to get things done. Not trying to run up the fees. I’ve recommended them.”


Next Step

Book a consultation.

Let’s talk about your international family law needs. How can we help?

If you’re looking for an accomplished complex divorce lawyer, child custody lawyer, child support lawyer, spousal support lawyer, domestic violence lawyer or adoption lawyer in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, let’s talk. We can help. Call us at 650.343.3486 or email us here.

Let’s get started.

The FOREFRONT A divorce & family law blog

Think About It: Is It Really So Strange To Have A Transactional Real Estate Lawyer At A Family Law Firm? We find it

You’re in luck because you’re in California, a community property state. And that makes the division of assets simple in that everything acquired

Amy Laughlin, a divorce and child custody lawyer in San Mateo, knows better than most what’s at stake for the children of divorcing parents.