What is family law?
Family law includes all matters related to the rights of spouses, parents and children. Our firm handles the following family law matters: divorce, division of property, legal separation, nullity, parentage actions, child custody and timeshare, child support, spousal support, domestic violence, and pre-marital and post-nuptial agreements. We handle complex property issues including division of businesses, stock options, and pensions.

What is a certified specialist?
A certified specialist is an attorney that has successfully satisfied the requirements of the California Board of Legal Specialization. To become a certified specialist in family law, the lawyer must have practiced family law for the required number of years and represented clients in a broad range of family law proceedings. The lawyer must pass an extensive written examination administered by the State Bar of California that is focused on family law issues. The lawyer is required to fulfill stringent continuing legal education requirements. Each lawyer also has to re-certify every few years and keep their practice focused in their particular field of expertise. For more information about family law certified specialists, please visit www.californiaspecialist.org"

What is mediation?
Donna Gibbs offers mediation services to those clients who want to work together to structure their divorce settlement. Individuals who choose mediation agree to work with their spouses in a cooperative, non-adversarial way to resolve their disputed issues. The mediator is a neutral, third party, that assists the spouses. This process relies on the parties to be the principal negotiators, with the mediator helping to keep the process structured and focused on interests and solutions that work for both parties. The mediator does not act as an advocate for either party. The ultimate resolution may look like the probable outcome in law, but the process offers the parties the most freedom to find solutions that may work best for them.

How much will it cost for me to get a divorce?
It is impossible to estimate the cost of a divorce. The ultimate cost depends on many factors such as the complexity of the issues involved, the degree of cooperation between the parties and attorneys, whether the matter proceeds to trial or settles through negotiation.

Will I automatically be divorced after being separated for six months?
California law requires that parties wait a period of six months between the time they file and serve the petition requesting the divorce and the time that their divorce becomes final. After the six month time period has passed, the parties can request that the court finalize their divorce. The divorce does not automatically become final after six months.

Should I rely on information I read on the internet?
No. The internet can be a good source of information but you should not rely on the internet for legal advice. Many of the divorce sites on the internet are not specific to California, and although the information may be accurate for some states it may not apply here.

What books can I read to familiarize myself with the dissolution process?

Many of our clients have found the following books helpful when going through this process:

1. How to Avoid the Divorce from Hell (And Still Dance Together At Your Daughter's Wedding) by Sue Talia.

2. Divorce and Family Law in California, A Guide for the General Public, by Bob Pickus

3. Good Parenting Through Your Divorce, by Mary Ellen Hannibal

4. For Better or for Worse, Divorce Reconsidered, by E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly

5. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce, the Sandcastles Way, by M. Gary Neuman, L.M.H.C.