Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Help Escaping Domestic Violence

Visit our website 
Always use a computer that your abuser does not have access to - your abuser can track your computer activity. 

Help Escaping Domestic Violence:

It is important that you have a detailed safety plan for you and your children before filing paperwork for divorce or custody.  You need to have a plan for where you will live, contact an attorney for a restraining order, and make sure to get copies the following to bring with you.

  • Financial Documents- bank statements, IRA/401k documents, tax returns
  • Insurance - Health and car insurance information 
  • Personal Documents- Birth Certificate, Marriage License, Social Security Card, Driver's License, and Passport or other citizenship documents (originals if at all possible) 
  • Asset documents- if possible bring the title to the car and other items with you 
  • Child documents- immunization records, school records, and other medical records
  • Any legal documents - previous custody or divorce papers, premarital agreements, important contracts, etc. 
  • Valued belongings- photos, jewelry, and other possessions. If you have a plan in place you can take more with you.

Other things to do:

  • Change your password on your email, bank account, credit cards, and any other important accounts that your abuser may have access to. 
  • Get a new cell phone or prepaid cell phone so that you can use that phone to call your friends, attorney, domestic violence hotlines, etc without your abuser being able to track it. You can also ask the phone company to block the abuser's known phone numbers. 
  • Have a bag of clothes packed for you and the kids so you can grab and go when needed. 
  • Consider renting a post office box to get items mailed to when you start looking into government aid, etc. or have things sent to your work or a friend. 
  • Make a budget of your expenses - make sure not to live beyond your means. You can live without cable, internet, smartphones, etc at least temporarily. Make your money last as long as possible. 
  • If you do not work - start looking into jobs and government assistance right away. 
  • Make a general list of property assets 
  • Have your name, address, and phone number unlisted. 
When you leave:
  • Get the restraining order right away so that the abuser cannot come near you and your children. Note that if you get a restraining order, the address information will be on the restraining order as well as any police reports that you file. 
  • Be careful who you give your new contact information to 
  • Alert your child's school, daycare, and doctor's offices about the situation. Consider changing schools,  daycares, doctors, churches, etc if possible. This includes going to different grocery stores, gyms, post offices, etc than you used to visit so that you are less likely to run into your abuser. Note that if you do not have a custody order or restraining order giving you sole legal custody, you should talk to an attorney before changing your children's school, daycare, doctor, etc. 
  • Reschedule any appointments that the abuser might know about 
  • Alert neighbors and co-workers and ask them to call the police if they feel you may be in danger. 
  • Install security alarms, motion sensors, etc 
  • Provide schools/daycares with a copy of the restraining order so that they know the abuser cannot pick up your kids 

This may seem incredibly overwhelming, but it is better for you and for your children to get out of an abusive situation.

If you need help getting a restraining order or filing for divorce/custody please visit our website for an application for our services. We charge on a sliding scale based on income and family size, starting at $10/ hr.

You can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800-799-SAFE (7233) or if you are in the Bay Area you can also contact 650-312-8515 or 800-300-1080 for assistance. 

Pamela Ross awarded a Top Lawyer of 2015 award

Our CEO/Lead attorney, Pamela Rdoss, has been deemed a Top Lawyer of 2015 by the Global Directory of Who's Who.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


We have two annulment trials this year in our office. We are also getting lots of calls from people asking for an annulment instead of a divorce. In California, in order to get a judgment for a nullity of marriage, you have to meet one of the following requirements:

1. Have been unable to consent to the marriage (ex: underage or incapacitated and even then if you continued to live as husband and wife after you became 18 or had capacity this may not apply).

2. One of you was already currently legally married to someone else (bigamy. Again there are even some exceptions to this.)

3. Fraud (they lied about their identity, immigration status, etc).However proving fraud, the most commonly checked annulment box is incredibly difficult. Generally we sit down with the client and discuss whether the costs associated with asking for the annulment, even if you succeed are worth the time, cost, and effort to get one. In most cases the answer is no.

4. Mental incapacity. This generally refers to the time when they consented at the marriage, but can be looped in with fraud in regards to them not disclosing a serious mental disorder. This is often difficult to get the judge to approve though, although I have seen it when both parties agree to an annulment and the marriage and courtship were fairly short. 

Even if you meet one of these requirements, you still need to file within the required time period to get an annulment instead of a dissolution (divorce).In most cases, this time period is within 4 years of marriage.

If you meet the requirements, then the judge is like a magician and *poof* your marriage never happened. This can also create a mess regarding property distribution since there will be no community property assets or debts if the marriage never existed. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tips for Finding the Best Attorney Possible

Choosing an attorney can be hard - should you go with the person who has a tv ad, the person that advertises in the phone book, a quick yelp search, etc...

Honestly you might have to sort through a couple of attorneys before you talk to one that just clicks as the person who is right for you. You have to work with this person for months or possibly a year or two depending on the complexity of your case.

We all passed the bar, but those who chose family law for reasons other than money have a much different attitude then most typical attorneys. We care about the people involved - we understand that every decision or strategy impacts your life and the lives of your children (and gasp - even your ex's). Unfortunately even in family law we have the sharks that are only in it for the win, no matter how much it hurts the other side and as a result the kids.

1. You want to find an attorney that understands that you will have to co-parent with the other side. You may be livid with them now -  but for the rest of your child's life you will have to deal with them for visitations, major events, etc. Co-parenting is KEY if your lawyer does not understand that - MOVE ON.

2. You want to find an attorney who also understands your spouse/ex's behavior. This is imperative where it is a domestic violence situation. You will want an attorney that will not be bullied by the other person, but on the other hand understands how "charming" abusers can be.

3. Make sure that your attorney understands what you want and is realistic about you about what is possible or not based on your situation. Do not go with an attorney who just tells you what you want to hear in order to get the fee agreement signed. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Make sure that you are talking to an actual attorney and preferably the attorney that will be handling your case. Lots of times you talk to a paralegal/assistant or intern and not the actual attorney. Make sure you talk to the person that will be handling the day to day parts of your case - since you will be working with them closely and have to feel like you trust them.

5. Make sure you talk to your attorney about hidden fees/charges. Do they typically waive some of them? For example, I typically only charge clients for longer phone calls and not for leaving me messages. I do not guarantee them this, but I do tend to do this. With this you also need to make sure they are not in it for the money-- by this I mean are they more likely to drag on your case in order to collect more fees. or try to get you and your ex to reach an agreement that is best for all parties involved (again dont forget about the children). In family law if your attorney is not trying to lean you in the direction of an agreement - get another attorney.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Welcome Attorney Hazel Bradshaw

Help us welcome attorney Hazel Bradshaw to All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc.
Hazel is an eager and energetic attorney with over 3 years of experience in civil litigation matters. Her experience also includes working as a law clerk for the State Bar of California. She has been working in family law for the past year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to save money when going through a divorce

The average divorce in California costs $15,000! Now some of those cost 5k and some of them cost 20k, but still expect a divorce with a traditional private law firm attorney to cost at least $5,000. In fact they often ask for that as a retainer to start on your case.

So how in the world do you avoid this?

Technically you can handle the case yourself, cross your fingers that all issues have been resolved and all paperwork is correct, and pay just the filing fees - which average about $500 if you just have the petition and not a bunch of side hearings. If you have a stipulated agreement (you both agree on everything 100% and do not need a hearing) then maybe that is a realistic option if you have the time to spend at the self help center located at California court houses attending classes and asking questions about the paperwork you should file. For most people, however, I would definitely recommend having an attorney represent you.

So if you do hire an attorney here are both options and recommendations on how to save money.

1) If you qualify, fill out a fee waiver. In Alameda county a household of 1 person making under approximately $1100 or a family of 3 making approximately under $1300 per month would qualify for a fee waiver so that they can avoid the approximately $500 in court fees.

2) If you qualify you can apply for legal aid- is the SF Bay Area Option. You can also call us, All for the Family Legal Clinic, to be charged on a sliding scale based on your family income and size, or you can call your county bar association to see what volunteer attorney programs they have that you may qualify for.

3) Once you have an attorney, remember time is money.
Every phone call, every email, every contact that you have with your attorney, or that the opposing party has with your attorney costs you money. Look at your fee agreement because often every call is rounded to the nearest 0.15 of an hour. Every email, also rounded to the nearest 0.15 of an hour, etc. If they file paperwork for you they charge you travel time and wait time, etc. You can often ask if you can serve your own paperwork (have a friend who is over 18 do it, not yourself) or file your own papers at the court.

Also when you call them to vent - you are paying them. You may be paying them to be a therapist instead of an attorney, but you are paying them for their time to listen to you talk about your relationship. Some of that information will be relevant and you need to tell your attorney, but you do not need to tell them the same thing over and over again.

4) Make sure that you give them ALL of the information. It will save you money if you give your attorney all of the paperwork regarding your finances, etc. You can even take a look at forms FL-150 and FL-160 in advance to see what type of financial information your attorney will need to properly fill out your paperwork. You can also ask your attorney if you can fill out your own FL-150 and FL-160 (Income and Expense and property declarations) so that your attorney is not billing you for the time. However if you do this make sure that you address all of your assets and debts.

5) Talk to the other party and see if you can reach an agreement. Most attorney income comes from waiting around at hearings. You pay from the second we leave the office to the second we get back. If your hearing is at 9am expect us to leave our office at about 8:15am, wait around for your case to be called and possibly during day of court mediation when your attorney wont go in with you, but sits in the hall, while a court appointed mediator attempts to get both parties to reach an agreement, waiting for your case to be called to finalize the agreement or debate why one was not reached, etc. Expect to pay your attorney for 5 hours worth of work minimum for each hearing that you have. If you can reach an agreement then these hearings will not be necessary - in that case you can pay your attorney just to handle the paperwork.

6) If you can reach an agreement before you even talk to an attorney, then negotiate a flat fee stipulated divorce with your attorney. Even a stipulated agreement  in many counties attorneys draft the agreement  plus lots of additional forms to attach to it.   Even a 100% agreed divorce if there are children involved can be 50 pages worth of documents. However if you have a flat fee you know that the divorce cost (assuming everything remains 100% agreed) will not go over that amount.

Divorces and custody disputes are never easy, but if you work with an attorney that is concerned about the best interest of the children, your pocket book, and you then it will be as pleasant as possible. In family court there is no such thing as a winner or loser. You are real people that have to deal the consequences and the goal is to reach and agreement that is the best for everyone in the long run - especially when children are involved.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Three years serving the Bay Area

Happy Anniversary to All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc. July 1st, marked the third anniversary of our official office opening. It has been an honor to serve the public for the past three years and we hope to continue doing so for many years to come. Give a tax deductible donation today to help us expand our services. You can do so at

Sunday, April 26, 2015



All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit legal clinic dedicated to serving low income and middle income families in the Bay Area.

We are looking to hire a 1099 contract attorney as of July 15, 2015. The contract term will be for one year, with the likelihood of it being renewed. After attorney builds up a full case load, they should expect to bill between 25-30 hours per week.  

Attorney will handle family law cases, mostly related to divorce, custody, and restraining orders. Most cases will be in Alameda County; however we do also practice in Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco counties.

  • Active California Bar Membership required as of July 15, 2015
  • A minimum of 1 year of experience in Family Law
  • Self-starter, as you will have the ability to work from home
  • Ability to complete tasks without much guidance and training
  • Ability to come into the office in Castro Valley at least 2 days per week for meetings with clients, to check mail, and to discuss cases as needed
  • Detail oriented as filings and briefs require extensive attention to detail
  • Ability to do own legal research and writing as needed; Familiarity with family law forms
  • Spanish speaker preferred, but not required.
  • Must be able to get to court hearings as required

We are a nonprofit focused on providing the best legal representation to clients. We are dedicated to community service and we are looking for a like minded individual. You will be one of three attorneys.

Contact: Pamela Ross

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top One Percent Selection

We are proud to announce that this year Pamela Ross, our CEO and Lead Attorney has been selected by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel as a member of their Top One Percent 2015.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Volunteer of the Year Award

The clinic is proud to announce that CEO/Lead Attorney Pamela Ross will be honored on May 21, 2015 with the Alameda County Bar Association's Volunteer of the Year award. She will also be recognized by ACBA with a Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Service

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Spousal Support and Long Term Marriages

In the state of California, any marriage lasting longer than 10 years is definitely a long term marriage (some judges will consider an 8 year marriage a long term marriage). When you have a long term marriage, a court is much more likely to grant long term (after the divorce is final) spousal support and to keep jurisdiction over spousal support open until one of the parties die or there is cohabitation with a romantic partner/ the supported party remarries. However, that does not necessarily mean that support will be granted. Jurisdiction means that the court maintains the authority to grant, modify, or terminate support. However, the amount of support is determined largely by the income of each party and the separate assets of each party.

Short term support (until the divorce is final) is very formulaic, so the judge tends to order support based on a state formula for temporary support. If the number comes out as zero, you are almost guaranteed to receive zero. However for long term support the judge has a ton of discretion taking into account about 15 different factors. Included are health of the parties, education levels, job history/opportunities, and the standard of living during the marriage. Judges also look at the income and expenses of each party and the tax ramifications for each party. Therefore if you make similar incomes, even though he/she makes more money than you, you may not end up receiving long term support or it may be a very small amount.  This is hard for some clients to swallow.

Of course most cases one party does get support. Talk to us today about your situation.