Resolving family law matters through negotiated settlements in which the parties ultimately decide the outcome by agreement, rather than having a judge determine the outcome, is our preferred method of resolution when possible.
However, if settlement is not possible in your case, and litigation becomes necessary to protect your best interests, you can rely on our extensive experience in litigation, both in motion practice and trial work. We have developed close working relationships with financial professionals, vocational experts and mental health resources for engagement in your case if necessary. We work vigorously and strategically to protect your rights under California law.
We regularly appear on behalf of clients in the Superior Court of California in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, as well as before private judges throughout the Bay Area. We have extensive experience in all areas of family law litigation including custody and visitation, spousal and child support, property division, nullity and paternity.
Divorce may be your first experience of litigation. We make sure you know what to expect and we prepare your case for trial with precision and care.
Our commitment to you is comprehensive and includes superior trial preparation and a customized approach. We view each case as unique and structure our litigation techniques to the circumstances of your individual situation. From the date you engage our firm through trial, we look for ways to mitigate the impact of potential emotional, financial and legal pressures associated with going to court. While many cases settle on the courtroom steps, the best settlement will only occur if you are well prepared for trial. With Robin, Ferguson & Kempton, you will be ready.
Mediation is a confidential process designed to resolve disputes without involving the court. Both parties select a neutral mediator. Everything said during mediation is confidential. The process is informal and not binding on you, unless an agreement is reached and signed. Increasingly, spouses choose mediation to dissolve their marriage and reach a settlement. In the right circumstance and when both spouses are willing to compromise, mediation can be productive, efficient and can minimize both acrimony and expense.
The partners of Robin, Ferguson and Kempton have extensive experience mediating cases as the joint neutral.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation presents a welcome opportunity to reduce acrimony in a divorce, create certainty of the outcome, and reduce the costs associated with litigation. It can be particularly effective in reaching agreements that extend beyond the court’s scope and in circumstances requiring non-traditional and creative solutions.
While mediation may not be the right choice in all divorces, many clients appreciate the convenience and tailored approach of this alternative. Participants in mediation can structure an agreement that meets their needs, instead of being constrained by the law or a judge’s interpretation of the law.
As the neutral mediator, our goal is to create a facilitative and positive environment that will allow the parties to reach a settlement in a reasonable time frame.
We recognize that your case is unique. We strive to provide our mediation clients with customized solutions that will be acceptable to both spouses, while considering psychological realities and emotional intangibles to help you reach a resolution of your case through mediation.
Engaging one of Our Partners as the Mediator
You and your spouse will meet with a partner for an initial meeting to determine whether we are the right mediator for you. Once engaged as the mediator, we will guide you and your spouse through every step of the process, including filing the initial paperwork, exchanging financial disclosures, negotiating an agreement and preparing the final agreement and associated documents.
Although, as a neutral mediator, we cannot give legal advice to either party, we are able to draw from our vast experience of family law to help both parties understand options for settlement and possible outcomes in the event your case proceeds to court.
Additionally, we have developed close working relationships with financial professionals, vocational experts and mental health resources for engagement in your case if necessary.
Mediation sessions are generally conducted with the mediator and the two spouses. However, we encourage each spouse to obtain a consulting attorney from whom they can obtain legal advice. In some cases, and especially if an impasse in mediation is reached, we may suggest a mediation session with parties, consulting attorneys, and the mediator.
Engaging one of our Attorneys for Consultation during Mediation
If you and your spouse have already engaged a mediator (or plan to engage someone other than Robin, Ferguson & Kempton as the neutral mediator) and you would like to engage us as your individual consulting attorney to advise you through the mediation process, please click here.
Robin, Ferguson & Kempton offers consulting services to clients who are attending mediation, negotiating their own divorce directly with their spouse, or who are represented by counsel and would like a second opinion. When serving as consulting counsel, we are available to explain your rights under the law, answer any questions you may have about the process and the law, review your financial disclosures, and review proposed agreements. Throughout the entire process, we will work with you to identify efficient and favorable approaches to resolution, to determine a strategic approach to the negotiations, and to help you obtain additional information necessary for you to enter a meaningful settlement. We recognize that your case is unique. We provide our clients with individualized approaches and we understand there are psychological realities and emotional intangibles that can affect the resolution of your case.
Engaging Counsel for Consultation during Mediation
Increasingly, spouses choose to enter mediation to dissolve their marriage and reach an out of court settlement. In the right circumstances and when both spouses are willing to compromise, the mediation process can be productive, efficient and minimize acrimony and expense. Although the spouses generally attend mediation without counsel, it is advisable to consult with an attorney before and after mediation sessions for legal advice and support.
If a roadblock occurs during mediation and both parties and the mediator agree, we are available to attend mediation sessions with you, your spouse, your spouse’s consulting attorney, and the mediator. This can help resolve impasses and lead to a successful global resolution.
If mediation fails and you need to litigate, we can easily continue to represent you by modifying our role from consulting counsel to litigation counsel. As litigation counsel, we can represent you at Court and, also, if you wish, attempt to negotiate a settlement directly with your spouse’s attorney.
Engaging Counsel for Consultation during Negotiation Directly with your Spouse
Many spouses choose to negotiate a resolution to divorce between themselves without hiring a mediator. When there is total transparency with regard to assets, a reasonable level of trust, and both spouses are willing to compromise, this approach can be both productive and positive while minimizing acrimony and expense. Although you are negotiating on your own, it is advisable to consult with an attorney for legal advice.
If direct negotiation with your spouse fails, you may choose to attend mediation or go to Court. We can continue to consult with you during mediation. If mediation fails, we can modify our role from consulting counsel to litigation counsel. As litigation counsel, we can represent you at Court and, also, if you wish, attempt to negotiate a settlement directly with your spouse or spouse’s attorney.
Engaging Counsel for a Second Opinion
There are many excellent family law attorneys in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. However, if you are represented by counsel and wish to obtain a second opinion, you may engage us for this purpose. Although you may receive similar advice from us as you received from your current attorney, we find that it often helps for clients to hear similar advice in a different way. Additionally, we may have some suggestions and strategies that your current attorney has not considered. In some cases, we are engaged as co-counsel with your current attorney to assist with a specified issue. In some cases, you may wish to transition to us from your current attorney. Irrespective of the scope of our consulting relationship, we want you to receive the best representation for your unique situation to help you reach a resolution of your case.
Collaborative Practice is a way for spouses to respectfully resolve their divorce or other family law matter. Unlike litigation, it allows spouses to find creative and individualized solutions. The process is private and cooperative. Clients work to resolve their concerns outside of court with a team of collaboratively trained attorneys, mental health professionals and financial professionals who all work together to identify options that serve both spouses and the best interests of your family. The clients and collaborative counsel sign a contract that expressly prohibits going to court during this process and prohibits the attorneys from representing the clients in any future adversarial proceeding between them.
Collaborative Practice helps families who are facing difficult transitions communicate effectively, manage emotions and make informed decisions in a low conflict environment. The process helps set the foundation for positive co-parenting and future communication. The team works together to timely provide necessary information and documentation, analyze the information and identify possible solutions.
In this process, you can establish agreements that extend beyond the parameters of what a judge could order. Collaborative Practice, unlike litigation, allows the clients to maintain more control over their case and the outcome. Collaboratively achieved agreements tend to be more enduring since each party is invested in the process and makes a significant contribution toward reaching the agreement in a positive and transparent environment.
Founding partner Alissa Kempton leads our Collaborative Practice services. Certified in Collaborative Practice, she served as co-chair of the San Mateo Collaborative Practice group for 2018 and 2019, and she is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Alissa has helped clients reach resolution using Collaborative Practice and can help you determine if this approach might be right for you and your family.