My mission is straightforward: Knowing firsthand how traumatic it can be to get divorced (and how expensive it is to have two households instead of one), I guide couples through the legal and emotional divorce process from start to finish, in a way that is supportive, effective and not overpriced.
I started practicing family law in 1994 after finishing law school, having declined an offer from a big firm. I always felt it was my calling to work in this field. People assume divorce law is depressing, and it can be if you are watching people spend their savings on a legal battle and leave bruised and bitter, with children damaged from the conflict. My work is very rewarding because it is the complete opposite: I am watching people resolve conflict and make it successfully through a time of crisis and grief.
My clients come to me in different emotional states. For some clients, the divorce is a mutual decision; for others, one person has had the bomb dropped. Sometimes the separation was started by an affair. Sometimes it’s just the end of the line after years of trying and never being happy. What clients have in common is this: when we first start, they are angry, scared and in crisis. That’s ok. We work through the tears and the anger and the roadblocks so we can reach agreements about finances, property division and children. We manage to find resolution in spite of the emotion. By the end of the process, the couple has a full legal divorce and settlement agreement without going to court and without paying a fortune in fees.
As a side benefit, some healing and necessary communication often occur during the process, which helps everyone move forward and helps divorced parents work together in the future as co-parents. At the very least, the mediation/settlement forum prevents greater conflict from erupting.
Attorney and mediator
I am an attorney and mediator, licensed to practice law in California since 1993. I began practicing family law in San Francisco in 1994. I loved my work, but became frustrated by the adversarial nature of the court system. Court battles create so much bitterness that people can't move beyond the anger, even years later. This conflict is very harmful to everyone, and expensive too. While I was practicing traditional family law, I always felt there had to be a better way to get divorced.
I relocated to San Diego in the late 1990's. I stayed home for several years to have children. When it was time to return to my career, I opened a different type of family law practice -- one with an emphasis on conflict resolution, mediation, and education to enable people to make it through divorce as humanely as possible and successfully rebuild their lives.
-I have been married for 22 years and have two children. I am the child of divorced parents. I understand marriage and divorce, and I believe in both. Marriage can be wonderful, but sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, divorce is the only option. And sometimes it’s not your choice, which can be very difficult.
My parents divorced when I was a teenager and they did it as considerately as they could. Still, l remember how it felt for all of us to see our family, our home and our possessions divided. There is fear and anxiety for everyone about what lies ahead.
However, because I have seen the bigger picture of divorce -- the long-term success stories of my clients over the years and my own parents’ happiness once they rebuilt their lives -- I know divorce is not just a tragic ending but also the beginning of a new and fulfilling phase of life.
Alison Patton | Patton Thickstun APC
Divorce Mediation & Consultation By An Experienced & Caring Family Law Attorney