San Francisco Divorce Lawyer

“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

What services should you expect from a San Francisco divorce lawyer?

At Laughlin Legal, we believe no two divorces are the same, therefore everyone should expect to be offered a variety of ways to resolve their divorce dispute. Our attorneys are skilled at the three primary approaches practiced to resolve a divorce dispute: mediation, litigation, and collaborative law.
  • Mediation is a strategy that’s rapidly growing in popularity because it is typically faster and less expensive than litigation provided both couples are willing to negotiate and compromise. Mediation provides couples with a neutral third-party mediator to help them resolve issues and reach a final settlement agreement. Laughlin Legal’s San Francisco divorce attorneys are also certified, skilled, and experienced mediators. Amy Laughlin also has a certification in Negotiation Mastery from Harvard Business School.
  • 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. Divorce lawyers in San Francisco must have highly skilled litigators in the event that an alternative method of resolution is untenable. At Laughlin Legal, our litigators are frankly second to none.
  • Collaborative law is a dispute resolution process where the parties and their attorneys agree to work together respectfully, honestly, and in good faith to resolve their divorce. 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 not pursue litigation during the collaborative process.

What other marital issues can a divorce attorney in San Francisco resolve?

A central element in most divorces is division of assets or the process of determining the status of the assets, then dividing them up equitably between the divorcing spouses. California is one of just nine states that operates on the community property principle when it comes to asset division: each spouse is entitled to half the marital property unless there’s a signed settlement agreement to the contrary. 50/50. Sounds simple. The two biggest challenges are identifying what qualifies as community property, then accurately assessing the value of that property.

Determining alimony or spousal support or maintenance is another central step in achieving a divorce. One spouse may be ordered to pay support or maintenance to the other spouse who is found to be incapable of self-support. Since this is often a contentious aspect of divorce, finding a divorce attorney in San Francisco who is an experienced spousal support lawyer is particularly helpful.

Child custody and child support are possibly the most emotional, most contentious aspects of a divorce. An experienced San Francisco divorce lawyer can often help negotiate a resolution that is not only in the best interests of the child, but also most likely to result in a more amicable family life post-divorce.

Can a San Francisco divorce attorney also help you with Adoption?

Absolutely. Whether you want to add a parent, change a parent, or appoint a parent, if it’s in the child’s best interest, it’s possible with the help of a divorce lawyer who is also a child custody lawyeradoption lawyer, or guardianship lawyer.

Are divorce lawyers in San Francisco essentially all the same?

There are basically two kinds of divorce lawyers in San Francisco: those that run on volume and those that treat every case as one of a kind. A volume practice takes every case that comes their way, quickly turns them over to an associate, and runs them through a well worn sequencer of steps without taking the time to deeply think or strategize. It’s divorce by cookie cutter.
The other sort of San Francisco divorce law firm believes that no two cases are the same. They may be similar, but no two marriage partners are ever identical. And it’s only upon deeper consideration, discovery and questioning that a more productive approach can be found. This is the sort of San Francisco divorce law firm that Laughlin Legal has always been.


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.

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

Choose a lawyer you can trust and book a consultation.

Let’s talk about your divorce. 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, we can help.

Let’s get started.

about Divorce & Family Law

Want some of the best legal advice you can get from one of the best divorce lawyers and child custody lawyers around? Want it for FREE? Every first Tuesday of the month at 12pm pst, Founder & Partner Amy Laughlin meets with Laughlin Legal clients on a group zoom call for 60 minutes to answer questions and offer FREE advice. If you’re currently a client, click HERE to reserve your spot!

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.

You have rights.

Let’s talk about your options.

Schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

LAUGHLIN LEGAL Divorce & Family Law Group   650.343.3486   info@LaughlinLegal.com
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