JOHNSON AND NIXON LAW OFFICE
SALLY COOPERRIDER (formerly NIXON)
142 George St.
San Jose, CA 95110
Family Law includes divorces (DIssolution of
Marriage or Domestic Partnership), paternity, child
support, and custody cases, and pre-nuptial
agreements. There are three ways to approach
your family law case: by mediation, collaborative
law, or traditional representation. An attorney at
Johnson and Nixon can act as a mediator, a
collaborative law attorney, or a traditional attorney.
They can also help you create a pre-nuptial
agreememt. Descriptions are below, and there is
also more information on the linked pages.
A mediator helps the parties to come to a mutually
satisfactory agreement about their divorce or other
legal matter. In a mediated family law case, the
parties agree to disclose all their financial
information, and to try to listen to the other party,
as well as to advocate for their own needs.
A mediator is neutral, and doesn't represent either
party. Mediation is also confidential. What is said
in mediation can't be used later in court if the
parties have a dispute. The mediator is trained to
help the parties come to an agreement that works
for both of them, and to help the parties create a
positive working relationship. The parties
sometimes hire separate attorneys to review any
agreements that they make in mediation.
If you choose collaborative law for your family law
case, you and your spouse or partner will each
have your own attorney. The four of you (two
parties and two attorneys) will work as a team to
gather information and to come to an agreement
about your case. You can also involve other
professionals, such as an accountant, appraiser,
or a mental health professional, if needed. As a
team you will gather documents and information to
help you come to an agreement about your
property, child and/or spousal support, if
appropriate, and custody and visitation matters.
After you come to an agreement, one or both
attorneys will put it in written form, and will prepare
the necessary court papers.
In a collaborative law case you and your spouse or
partner will each promise to fully disclose all of
your financial matters, and to try to come to a
mutually acceptable agreement outside of Family
Court (though your agreement will be filed in court
to become an official court order). The attorneys
will also promise not to contest the case in court.
You always keep the right to go to court. However,
if you want to contest the case in court, you will
need to hire different attorneys other than the
You can find a list of qualified mediators and
Collaborative Law attorneys on the Santa Clara
County Superior Court website, or the website of
Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley. Thewebsites
TRADITIONAL FAMILY LAW
If you choose the traditional family law approach,
the attorney will represent your interests and try to
help you achieve your goals in your family law
case. The attorney will try to negotiate agreements
with the opposing party or attorney when possible,
and will contest the case in court if that is needed.
You will be required by law to disclose your
financial information to your spouse or partner.
The attorney can help you to get court orders for
dividing property, child support, spousal or
partner support, custody and visitation, and
Many couples choose to create a pre-nuptial
agreement before they get married or become
domestic partners. They may just want to
document what property they both own before the
marriage, or they may want to change the normal
rules about the creation of community property
during the marriage.
For instance, sometimes they agree that the house
that one party owned before the marriage will stay
separate property, and there won't be any
community interest in it even though the mortgage
is paid down during the marriage with community
funds. Sometimes they agree that they won't have
any interest in the pensions or retirement accounts
of the other. The attorneys at Johnson and Nixon
can discuss your wishes and tailor a pre-nuptial
agreement to your needs, as well as following the
procedural rules needed to make the pre-nuptial
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The State Bar of California publishes general
information about divorce and other legal subjects.
A link to their pamphlet about divorce is:
State Bar Divorce pamphlet