Video #73 – Other Resources & About Us

Video Transcript

Welcome to 

Christina:  This is Christina.

Ed:  This is Ed. In this video, we are going to talk about other resources and a bit about ourselves.

Christina:  If you have questions that our videos and our website did not answer, free help is available.  Most counties have a “Family Law Facilitator” available to the public.  A Family Law Facilitator is an employee of the court, typically an attorney, who can assist you with completing court forms and can provide you with guidance in regards to court procedures.  The Family Law Facilitator is free.  Check with your local court for the drop-in hours and locations when the facilitator will be available.  In addition, most counties offer free divorce workshops you can attend.

Ed:   Another free resource is the county law library, which is different from a regular library.  If you go to the law library, have the librarian direct you to the section of the library where the family law books are kept.  There are a number of multi-volume family law guides that can provide you with the answers to most of the questions you may have.  The “California Practice Guide – Family Law” by the Rutter Group is particularly good.

Christina:  Another option is to schedule a consultation with a family law lawyer in your area.  Many divorce lawyers offer an initial free consultation.  Schedule a free consultation and you may be able to get your questions answered.  Also, check with your employer to see if your employer participates in a legal referral program.  Many large employers have joined legal referral plans.  Under most of these plans, employees are eligible for a free initial consultation with a local lawyer as well as a substantial discount on the lawyer’s normal hourly rate.  

Ed:  Regular books are another good resource.  If you go to our website and look at the topic, “Other Resources”, we have a list of various books that we think are particularly good, particularly when it comes to child custody issues.

Christina:  Ed, why don’t you tell our viewers a bit about you?

Ed:  My name is Edward Sullivan.  I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1976 and obtained my Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego Law School in 1979. I started practicing Family Law in Walnut Creek, California in 1979. I formed the partnership, O’Brien & Sullivan, in Walnut Creek in 1983. In the 1990’s I became a Certified Specialist in Family Law, certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. My Family Law practice included both divorce litigation and divorce mediation. I have a lot of experience with complex divorce litigation and trials. At the time of this recording, I have been married for 36 years. I have four adult children.  I retired from the practice of law in December of 2018.  When I retired, I had time to devote to working with Christina to develop this website.

Ed:  Now, Christina, it’s your turn.

Christina:  I’m Christina Van Ness. I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 2002 and obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2007. I joined O’Brien & Sullivan as an associate in 2010.  The partnership, O’Brien, Sullivan & Van Ness was formed in 2013. Prior to becoming a family law attorney, I gained invaluable trial experience as a public defender in Contra Costa, Marin, and Solano counties.  I maintain an active family law practice in Walnut Creek, California under Van Ness Law.  My practice involves both litigation and mediation.  At the time of this recording, I have been married for 13 years and I have two children. I am passionate about helping people and this website gives me the opportunity to help a lot of people that can’t afford a lawyer.

Ed:  Christina and I have over 50 years of family law experience between us.  Over the past 40 years, the practice of family law has become exceedingly more complex with new laws, forms, and procedures added every year.  This has dramatically driven up the cost of hiring a divorce lawyer.  Today, the vast majority of people can’t afford a lawyer.  Over 70% of all family law court filings are by people that don’t have lawyers.  Over the years, more and more people contacted our firm and asking if they could simply consult with us.  They needed someone to explain basic legal procedures and/or basic legal concepts so they could complete their divorce without paying a large retainer to a lawyer.  With this website, we have tried to simplify a very complex legal process and provide the public with the tools they need to get divorced even if they can’t afford a lawyer.

Christina:  The explanations in our videos and on our website are clear to us because we’re lawyers with years of experience.  The explanations may not be so clear to non-lawyers.  Also, there is so much we did not explain because we would have created a website that contained so much information that it would have been overwhelming.

If you did not understand something, let us know.  If a lot of people are having trouble with a particular concept or issue, we can add more videos or web content so the next person won’t be confused.  We want the community’s input so we can improve this site.  If you think we should add certain information to our site, let us know.  If you have an idea for improving our site, we welcome your suggestions.

Ed:  Since the 58 counties in California have different local rules and procedures, we would like to hear from you about the local rules or procedures you encountered for your particular county that was a problem.  We are considering adding to our website a link with information about each county so people can look up their individual county and see posts with information about the local rules, forms, and procedures that are unique to that county. 

Christina:  In the “Other Resources” section of our website is a subtopic called, “Support our Mission”.  There you will find a link you can use to send us your comments and suggestions. Please do not use the link to send us questions about your own divorce case.  We just do not have the capacity to answer individual questions or otherwise respond to individual comments.


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