You have helped guide us through this process that can be so ugly, with grace, kindness and humor. It has been a very difficult year but I have accepted the loss of the marriage and my goal now is to make this as easy and as painless as possible for our children. And honestly I don't think things would have turned out this positively if we had worked with anyone else but you. Thank you for all that you have done for us. We are so glad we found you! You are so compassionate and good at what you do.

Comments from the client evaluation at the end of the case

1.  The in- office mediations were excellent. They were what I expected a mediation to be--a discussion with you as the go-between (not like our previous experience with the law firm we used before we found you).  You are very skilled in the mediation process and I appreciated your ability to help my ex understand my point of view on things.

2.  You are very prompt to answer emails /phone calls and always went the extra mile to make sure we were kept apprised of how our case was progressing. Thus I did not feel left out of the loop or abandoned at any time (again, not like with the other firm).

3.  I did not meet your paralegal but she always responded to emails very quickly and addressed any concerns promptly.

4.  I think your fees were very reasonable for the work you do -- I truly appreciate that you do not nickel and dime your clients as I have heard many lawyers do!

5.  The only area of improvement I can think of is the miscommunication we had at one stage about the MSA, but it was so minuscule that I can't even remember what it was!

6.  Your obvious empathy for people and communication skills made the entire process as pleasant as possible.  You have a gift for working with people in a caring and kind manner while still being extremely effective.  This is a rare ability and I am so grateful to you! I also really appreciate that you always took or returned my calls, even when they were after hour.   And you called when the court papers came through, even though it was a Saturday, to make sure I was okay.  

I think that I am most impressed with the fact that you truly do care about your clients, are very approachable, non-judgmental and very un-lawyer like!  (no offence to lawyers!)

Alison is the consummate mediator. She is fair and shows enormous tact in the face of the difficult emotional circumstances of divorce. Ultimately, she wrote an agreement that we both could live with (including attorneys on both sides) with a minimum of back-and-forth. I firmly believe that working with Alison saved both me and my soon-to-be ex several thousand dollars in attorney's fees and several months in court.

OMG!  I am numb. . . I can’t believe you made this work out for both of us like you did.  THANK YOU soooooo much for getting this to a finale.  I really had lost all hope.  You are a miracle worker. 

When I first met Alison Patton, I had already had a number of unsatisfactory experiences with lawyers who didn’t listen, nor did they regard me or my personal information with much seriousness. Considering divorce is such a stressful time to begin with, the last thing I needed was a attorney I couldn’t depend on. Alison was like water in a barren desert–a relief on many dimensions. I remember my first meeting with her. Not only did Alison have a wonderfully warm disposition, I felt the burden of being alone lifted from me. I felt totally safe and she was the voice I wasn’t able to express. Alison has a strong, impeccable work ethic and was an amazing advocate for me. To top it off, Alison’s character is sincere and of the highest caliber. When things were difficult for me, Alison was there, making the effort, asking the questions, doing the fight, yet always maintaining kindness and compassion toward me. To this day, Alison Patton has a special place in my heart.


Alison did a wonderful job with our mediated divorce. She was empathic to both of us and knowledgeable in the law. She navigated through this painful period as smoothly as possible.


I consulted with Alison Patton several times during my divorce. I am from Germany and was unfamiliar with the American legal system. Alison helped me in several ways: She explained the law and legal terms I needed to know; she explained different ways I could handle my divorce. I decided to try mediation because I did not want to fight and destroy our children’s sense of family, and Alison helped me make decisions throughout my mediation. I consulted with a few other lawyers and they also could describe the law, but they didn’t have compassion for my personal situation. Divorce is a huge deal in your life, not just a legal thing, and Alison was the only attorney who talked with me in a personal way, with kindness and genuine concern. The practical advice and legal information she gave me was excellent and I was able to resolve my case through mediation.


Alison combines a fierce intellect with a sensitive heart to help people gain clarity during one of the most difficult times in their life. I had a therapist and a lawyer on retainer throughout my divorce, but much of the best advice I received came from my consultations with Alison. She was able to address both my legal and emotional concerns and she helped me make decisions so I was ultimately able to get the outcome I wanted. I still have a friendly relationship with my ex-wife and I attribute this to the way our divorce played out.


Alison Patton instantly elicits respect from anyone lucky enough to work with her– clients, colleagues and the court. She is an impressively clear thinker and has always brought insight, intelligence, creativity and empathy into her field. Alison is dedicated to reaching resolutions that work for the whole family.

Arlene Kostant
Attorney and Mediator
Certified Family Law Specialist
Certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

Testimonials from Family Lawyers, Mediators and Court Staff

Testimonial from San Diego Family Law Specialist, Bruce Beals

Divorce Mediation & Consultation By An Experienced & Caring Family Law Attorney

Family law proceedings are, without exception, the most difficult type of situation to be involved in for a family on many different levels, emotional, relational and financial, to name a few. Quite simply, they are devastating. There are ways to save families that should always be pursued first. There are situations, however, such as infidelity and abuse, where it is just not possible.
I have been an attorney for nearly 42 years. During the time I have practiced law, I have been a Certified Family Law Specialist (“CFLS”) and a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”). I have been involved in a number of very high profile cases, including matters in the California Supreme Court and Appellate Courts, that have led to controlling legal precedent in California
Each and every litigated court proceeding I have been involved in has had lasting negative effects on the families. Mediation would have made such a huge positive difference in their situations, if it had only been pursued.
Alison Patton is the primary Mediator I have used in order to help families navigate through what is, for many, the most traumatic experience of their lives. Alison is not only extremely professionally talented, she really cares about her clients and tries to achieve what is uniquely best for each family. 
I have referred many cases to Alison over the past ten years – so many that I have lost count. Some of the cases have involved high asset families or high profile professionals in the community who expect a demanding level of service.  In many of the cases I referred to Alison for mediation, I was the attorney of record (or the consulting attorney) for the husband or wife.  I have also participated in mediations conducted by Alison when the clients wanted their attorneys present. In this capacity, I have been able to observe Alison’s mediation skills and legal work for many years.
What I have observed is that Alison has the ability to settle cases successfully, even extremely difficult and challenging ones.  She finds a way to address the needs of both clients and to gain their trust and respect. My clients have been pleased with her work and the results of the mediation.  Most have settled their entire case in mediation with Alison.  In my professional opinion, there is no better mediator in San Diego than Alison.

Bruce M. Beals, Esq.
Certified Family Law Specialist
San Diego, California

Alison is a very good  lawyer and someone I highly recommend.  Words like integrity, candor and empathy are rarely terms you hear related to divorce lawyers, but Alison has these qualities.

Unlike some lawyers I first dealt with in my lengthy and seemingly never-ending divorce process due to a litigious ex-wife, Alison was not motivated by dragging things out or taking unnecessary costly steps to increase her billable hours.  She was reasonably priced in terms of hourly rates and retainers, probably because unlike larger law firms, she doesn’t have a huge staff, lavish offices and a giant infrastructure that requires her to pad her fees like so many other high profile lawyers I have worked with. Her sole goal and intent was to get a good settlement outcome in the quickest way possible.  Due to this mindset, she was able to get my case settled at a much lower cost and ended up saving me a ton of money.

I found her to be both intelligent and caring and she put the best interests of her clients before her own. That unfortunately cannot be said for all attorneys out there.  In addition to my own experience at certain points in my divorce before I used Alison’s services, I have friends and colleagues who have hired attorneys at big firms, only to end up spending more money on the lawyers than they actually recover in the case.  They win the battle but lose the war due to the exorbitant legal fees.  I highly recommend Alison’s services to anyone in need of an experienced, knowledgeable and reliable attorney, who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on legal fees, yet wants the same level of expertise and a favorable and expedient outcome.


I participated in Alison Patton’s half-day divorce workshop several years ago, when she first started them. It was an intimate gathering of people, each person looking for answers and guidance at one of the most painful times in their life. Alison has a way of speaking that is informative, straightforward and calming at the same time. And she really listens. Sharing was difficult for me, but Alison was able to bring a sense of safety and openness to the gathering. Hearing other people’s experiences was very helpful, as well as the realization that we are all very similar when it comes to suffering.


I was profoundly impressed by Ms. Patton’s finely-tuned negotiation skills, and by the way that she used those skills to maximize her ability to negotiate on my behalf. She did a remarkable job of situating herself between two opposing parties, so that both parties felt that they came out ahead. Ms. Patton’s sensitivity towards each side was always of paramount importance as she navigated her way through our proceedings. One of the things that set her apart from other divorce attorneys was that her primary objective was to create an atmosphere of healing which would lead us on the path towards constructing a new relationship as co-parents of our son. All in all, she did an excellent job of creating an emotional, spiritual, and material bridge that I needed in order to elevate myself and move forward with my life.


My wife and I hired Alison as our mediator to help us through the complicated maze of legal divorce filings required by the courts. From the outset, Alison impressed me as a very competent, fair and empathetic mediator. Even when emotions were running hot and tensions increased during our sessions, she consistently maintained an upbeat, positive and forward looking attitude, urging us to resolve our differences, in true mediation spirit. She showed impeccable impartiality toward both of us. Above all, she is a joy to work with, has a great, bubbly personality and a heart of gold.  I cannot recommend her enough - she gives it her all to make an already painful process seem more humane and as painless as possible.

Divorce is something you don't want anyone you care about to go through.  It was one of the most difficult things I've had to experience.  The only saving grace was going through mediation and finding Alison.  We had met with a couple of others and then a friend of mine's mother called and told me about Alison and I'm so grateful she did.  She is kind, caring, knowledgeable and honest.  She has a great way of discussing hard issues and making you feel comfortable.  Both my X and I would recommend her, absolutely!

I wanted to thank you for your work with us and getting us through one of the toughest things my wife (soon to be ex-wife) and I have ever been through.  I know it must have been challenging for you and I think you might have seen some of the dynamics that led to this divorce. Being divorced is not what I wanted for my life, yet it is now a reality. Thanks again for your infinite patience and kind heart. I don't think there is another mediator on the planet that could have handled us with such love and devotion.
Initials withheld upon request

Comments from the client evaluation at the end of the case

I am most thankful for Alison's genuine concern and thoughtfulness.  Alison's broad experience and organized approach kept the train moving forward at all times, despite all odds.  Alison was the credible steady voice that calmed my soul during the confusion and angst of divorce. Her pleasant, smart and firm demeanor with other counsel helped to create a rapport which improved the dialogue during mediation, as well as offline communication between counsel. I was lucky to have met Alison to help me though a very difficult process.

Testimonials from Clients

I had many contacts with Alison Patton in our respective roles as Family Court Mediator and Family Law Attorney. I always found her to be punctual, informed, ethical, and conciliatory.

She was a good negotiator, and always maintained her respect for others (both clients and opposing attorneys) and her sense of humor. Her competence and warmth were remarkable in an arena where such abilities can easily be lost. She was liked and respected by all the mediators, and by the judges.

Karen Romero Burns, LCSW, J.D.

Marriage is hard but divorce is harder and it brings out the worst in many people.  The odds of both members of a couple being “easy” during a divorce are slim.  Somehow Alison Patton seems to find the best in each person, and capitalize on that for the sake of an outcome in which both parties feel treated fairly.  She goes beyond just relaying pertinent information between the parties, she also soothes ruffled feathers and re-words things in a way that invites cooperation.  She is genuinely empathetic toward each person going through the ordeal of divorce.


I really feel fortunate to have worked with you in the divorce process.  After talking to several divorce attorneys, I found that nearly all of them stimulated my desire to fight and be aggressive.  Most used words like “I can be a pit bull” or suggested that I could not trust my current spouse or I would not be in a situation to require their services.  Thankfully, as I pushed back on these concepts, one lawyer yielded,  indicating I was probably not the right client for their practice and referred me to you.  They were right about that!   We quickly bonded around what in our hearts we know to be most important, the preservation of a positive environment for our daughter.  Your council helped me and my soon to be ex-wife keep that as our focus throughout the process, and as a result I feel we have a very functional relationship and a child who has survived her parents’ mistakes without any lasting damage (not to mention the preservation of her college fund).  We still have a long road ahead of us, but you set us on the right path and it is comforting to know that you are still there, should we need your council.  We appreciate your patience, caring advice and thoughtful support and we hope that many others find you and take advantage of your services.


Thank you, Alison, for all of your clear and concise help with the entire process.  For anyone I know going through divorce, I wouldn’t send them to anyone else. What you do for a living is difficult and you handle it with such care and I know anyone would be in good hands with you.  Thank you for bringing such integrity and compassion with helping others in such a delicate situation.  I'm so grateful for your easy going approach, positivity in a challenging situation and your loving touch.  Even your final email to us when the case was finished continued to show how much you care.  Thank you so much.


“You made it all happen for us, and I know we both appreciate it so much! It wasn't easy, but you did a "hellofa" great job....”

An email I received from a client right after their last mediation session, in which they settled their case

Hi Alison, I just wanted to tell you that I really wanted to give you a hug today! You've done a very warm and kind mediation with Rob and I. Maybe you don't hear that enough but you're doing a great service. Even though we seem amicable, it helps to have someone sensitive like you to keep us on track. Just wanted you to know I appreciate you and what you're doing. Thank you! 

Thank you for everything, Alison.  You were so thorough and caring throughout this whole process.  You really made everything much easier and less painful than it otherwise would have been, and for that I'm eternally grateful. 

Alison, your knowledge, compassion and guidance were a huge help to us.  My ex-wife and I both feel this way.  Thank you! 

Thank you for your help, guidance, and kindness. Of the attorneys involved, in my opinion, you were the best and most helpful.
From a male mediation client; initials withheld at client’s request

“Thank you again for doing more than your job and bringing compassion to what otherwise would only be procedure. You are so appreciated, and I don't for a moment take your time and ability for granted.”

While earning the trust and confidence of my former wife and I, Alison did her part to help us end this chapter with a hug instead of a court battle.  I would recommend Alison as a divorce mediator without hesitation. Alison has the experience, empathy, and perspective to help a couple navigate the process of divorce on their terms at a much lower financial and emotional cost.  (Alison, thank you again for your effort, your kindness, and your professionalism.)

As a court clerk at the Superior Court, I have known Alison Patton for about 18 years, tracing back to when she first came to observe and learn as a young, new attorney. She always was a joy to work with. I frequently saw Alison make her appearances as an attorney in Family Court. She exhibited the wisdom of a veteran attorney. She was very gentle and respectful, but at the same time, had great command over the situation and handled it with expertise. Her clients seemed very pleased with her and Alison did not go to trial much. Her cases settled very quickly to everyone’s satisfaction. The Bench had confidence in her work and even the opposing party seemed to be pleased with the agreements they reached.

Kala David
Clerk of the Superior Court of San Francisco

Alison Patton was the only associate I have ever had; I simply could never find anyone like her when she moved to Southern California. Her commitment and approach to family law mirrored mine perfectly, which gave me confidence to send cases her way. Her work is excellent, as is her work ethic. She has a rare ability to develop good relationships with clients and colleagues in an effort to work collaboratively toward amicable, reasonable, non-litigated resolution of conflict. Alison is also committed to serving her community and is recognized for her efforts to assist the court and to help pro bono clients who would otherwise have no access to legal representation.

Jennifer Jackson,
Certified Family Law Specialist
Past President, Northern California chapter of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 

When I got divorced, I consulted a few attorneys before meeting Alison. Alison was by far the most knowledgeable, compassionate, realistic and attentive. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her for your family law needs. She'll be 100% in your corner.


Alison helped me so much through my divorce. She not only made me feel comfortable in her competence of the law but she was extremely understanding on a personal level. I would highly recommend her.


Divorce is a difficult time, Alison treated me with dignity and kept the process to a minimum of drama and fees! I felt I was in good hands and recommend her.


I want to thank you for assisting my ex and me in this difficult time of dissolving our marriage. You have made the process so much easier for us than it could have been. As our mediator, you represented each of us fairly and offered us the support, encouragement, and wisdom we needed to bring resolution in terminating our marriage. You always made me feel comfortable and took the time to answer all my questions! You’re exceptional at what you do. You’ve been a blessing and I appreciate you.

An email from a client in response to the evaluation asking for feedback at the end of the case.
No complaints at all.  You were very professional, thoughtful, sincere and your fees were fair.  I would recommend you at any time. Thank you again for everything.

Thank you for all your guidance and assistance during my mediation. I felt heard and understood!


Thank you Alison for everything you have done for us, you have made this whole process much less painful than I know it could have been.

Alison, you have my most heartfelt appreciation for the way you got us through to the end of our divorce mediation. There were so many times I wanted to just give up and I'm sure, being human, you may have felt the same way a few times yourself. 

During our marriage, every discussion or argument or conversation about our marriage or the state of our marriage disintegrated into my ex arguing semantics and turning everything inside out and upside down to the point where we could never finish a rational discussion. So, I don't know how the hell you did it, but you did and I'm grateful.

In a few weeks, everything will be done and then I will really be able to settle into my new life.

Thank you,

Alison Patton | Patton Thickstun APC

An email I received from a client at the end of the case, sharing her feelings about the divorce process and the mediation.  (This client is a poet.)

Suddenly you find yourself alone on Tom Sawyer's raft, paddling across a sea, waving farewell to the only homeland you've known forever; staring at a stranger who used to take your breath away just knowing you walked together in this world.  Aloneness hits you in the gut and you're flaying in the deep, trying not to drown, surrounded by the "minutes on the clock" smiles. 

As you feel all is lost, Alison reaches out with a lifeline and gently steers you to the opposite shore.  As your eyes search, looking for a peaceful place to rest your soul, her words of wisdom and encouragement erase the sadness and the anger all these months of meetings and negotiations have created.  You realize you can breathe -- you will survive.

Thanks again so much for all your hard work. You are extremely thorough and I would recommend you in a heartbeat. Best in 2018 and beyond.

Throughout our mediation, you have been remarkable, decent, clear, and fair.  You are the ONLY person I've ever known who has successfully calmed down my spouse’s white hot anger.  You are to be commended for taking up mediation as a follow-on career to litigation. I would heartily recommend you to anyone and everyone.

Initials withheld at client’s request

An email from a mediation client after the case ended:
Alison, I am really grateful for your guidance in this process. I was especially appreciative when, during one of our mediations, you shared something of your own relationship dynamic and both your feelings and your husband's around it.  It really helped to validate my Ex and myself as having our own reasons for operating the way we do and it also diffused any tension.

I also appreciate your generosity of spirit with both time and energy. It always felt like you actually cared and that this was not just a job. I felt your fees were fair and really appreciate you going the extra mile with us and offering to not charge my Ex at that point when we needed some help moving forward and the additional fees for a call was a sticking point with him and getting in the way of us reaching a settlement. 
Thanks very much Alison, I would definitely refer to you!! Many blessings to you and your family.
Initials withheld at client’s request

Alison, everything is working out great with our mediated agreement and we couldn't have done it without you.  Thank you so much for your help and guidance.

Alison was a tremendous help during my divorce. She was very skilled, efficient, compassionate, and empathetic during a very emotionally charged time in my life as a mom with young kids. She is also well aware of all the challenges when divorcing someone with a potential personality disorder, which was helpful in my situation. My divorce was a very slow one (by our own choice/situation) but once it was all of a sudden “go time,” Alison was right there when I needed her to finish up the details on a short timeline. I only met her once in person and most of our interaction was over the phone and by email, which was helpful since life is always crazy; however, I still felt like I got to know her—and she me and my situation during the process. Most importantly, she was very fair and efficient with my time and wallet. I never felt like she was making unnecessary phone or email exchanges on my dime. As result, I feel like I received a very solid and thorough MSA/divorce for a very reasonable price. I would highly recommend her as your consulting attorney or as a mediator during your divorce. And check out her articles on her website—she’s a great writer with awesome insight into different topics relating to this challenging time in life.

I had been married for 30 years, my husband and I built our business together throughout our entire marriage. I never imagined that I would be divorcing at this point in my life, it was and still is a shock to say the least! I was skeptical to use a mediator due to our business and real estate that we owned.  I have to say, now that mediation is done, that I would not have done it any other way! I immediately felt confident and safe with Alison, she was there for me as well as the both of us. I called several times after hours and late at night in a panic, Alison always took my calls and reassured me that it would be OK and that I would be OK. Alison is very educated and compassionate, I very highly recommend her for anyone going through this.

Thank you, Alison, for helping us resolve our entire divorce through mediation. You do an amazing job at making an unpleasant task bearable!

You were such an asset for my ex-wife and I, and I can't thank you enough for all you did! You and Bruce B. were the ones that helped me the most and I am forever grateful.