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Family Law

Divorce Mediation

Mediation may be the most efficient manner to resolve your differences. When you hear family and friends discuss "out of court" settlements, this may be one of the many methods that they used to arrive at an Agreement. Michelle Sullivan, acting as a mediator, will not act as either party’s attorney of record but as a neutral party to facilitate discussions privately in our office. You and your spouse will be the exclusive decision makers regarding the outcome of any Agreement. In arriving at a Mediated Agreement, Michelle Sullivan has found that many times the parties are able to find creative and effective strategies to resolve their differences, which would not be available through the avenues of traditional litigation. This allows the parties to custom-make their settlements to meet their and their family’s needs and best interests.


Collaborative Divorce

The hallmark of the Collaborative Divorce is that each party is represented by an attorney who has signed an Agreement that there will be no court hearings, and all disputes will be resolved privately, outside of court, and ultimately by the parties. The effect of this for the parties and the attorneys is to keep everyone at the negotiation table, regardless of the difficulty or complexity of the issues. Besides two attorneys representing each party and the family’s best interest, the parties will have the access and assistance of a divorce coach(es) to assist the parties with complexity of negotiations from a communication and emotional standpoint. This is particularly helpful to parties who must continue to co-parent a child through and beyond adulthood, and/or assisting the parties from "bogging down" in the negotiations with issues which are not legal in nature.

Depending on the complexity of the case, the parties may agree to bring joint experts into the process, such as a financial consultant or child specialist, who will work directly with the parties in making recommendations towards and out of court settlement. In working on Collaborative Agreements, Michelle Sullivan has found that the professionals can provide elegant and custom made strategies to resolve the outcomes considering each family’s unique requirements.

Collaborative parties work together to create a cost-effective environment to arrive at a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage by using the right professionals, at the right time for the right issues. The Agreements reached through this process provide durable, long-range solutions which are as unique as the individuals and families involved. Although the collaborative process can be difficult, some parties find that they experience the long-lasting benefits of increased personal skills that can only be developed by working with a team of highly skilled professionals.


This traditional approach utilizes a Superior Court Judge to resolve your differences.

Michelle Sullivan has been litigating Family Law issues for more than 25 years. She will represent you and will be present for all court hearings and prepare all pleadings on your behalf.

Due to the nature and breadth of the California Family Code and California case precedents that are available for counsel and the court to use to determine the outcome of your case, this can be an effective manner to resolve disputes. In highly conflicted cases, or where one side is overly emotional, this may be the most cost-effective and cost-efficient manner to obtain a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.

There are very rigid procedures involved in presenting cases to the Court which must be followed. Most parties will be best served by hiring counsel to assist them through this process. If your spouse has hired an attorney and you have a court date pending, you should obtain your own attorney whether it is Michelle Sullivan or not.

Litigation is a public setting and all of your information will be available to the public through the court file, which is a public document, as compared to Mediation and Collaborative which remain confidential and private. This means that your family, friends and co-workers have the ability to read about you and your spouse during business court hours.

Finally, once you proceed through the court room doors, you are allowing the Superior Court Judge to decide the outcome of any issue that you submit to him or her. Therefore, you have delegated all decision making authority to a third party on issues such as custody and visitation or support.


For individuals who are unsure of how to proceed, we offer free consultations to ascertain which model is best for the individual involved. Under certain circumstances, this would preclude Michelle Sullivan as acting Mediator, should Mediation be the direction you wish to go. 

This option also works well for individuals involved in mediation with other mediators who desire a discussion regarding negotiation strategies or a review of an Agreement that has been drafted by the acting mediator.

This option also works well for those who are considering acting as a self-represented litigant during any court proceeding.


Michelle Sullivan also performs step-parent and independent adoptions including the termination of parental rights when appropriate.

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