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Alison Patton
Alison Patton is a licensed attorney and mediator, lecturer and writer who works with divorcing couples throughout California to address their legal, emotional and financial issues during divorce. Her specialty is providing mediation and comprehensive legal services for couples whose goal is to get through the divorce process affordably and without setting foot in court. She writes as “The Divorce Doc” on her blog, and is a contributor to Solo Parent Magazine.

Originally from San Francisco, Alison graduated with highest honors from UC Berkeley and UC Hastings School of Law and was on Hastings Law Review. She handled litigation in the areas of family law, paternity, domestic violence and guardianship. She was named San Francisco Pro Bono Family Lawyer of the Year and received the Wiley Manuel Pro Bono Service Award from the State of California.

In her spare time, Alison runs an artisan granola business with her husband and children.

Entries by Alison Patton

Divorcing The Donald: Cutting Ties With the Narcissist

(10) Comments | Posted April 8, 2016 | 12:16 PM

Narcissistic Personality Disorder A "Cluster B" personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the damage they are causing to themselves and often others.

While the Republican Party is desperately trying to cut ties with Donald Trump, the...

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Secrets of a Successful Divorce Mediation

(4) Comments | Posted April 21, 2015 | 12:35 PM

As a former litigator turned mediator, I'm frequently asked why divorce mediation works. My response is a list of benefits: "faster, costs less, resolves conflict, calms emotions instead of amping everyone up." But today, when reading Teri McCowen's blog on about the power of listening,...

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Is a Bucket List the Cure to Post-Breakup Depression?

(9) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 4:55 PM

"Often we see a couple who has separated or divorced and look with sadness at the 'failure' of their relationship. But if both people learned what they were meant to learn, then that relationship was a success." -- Marianne Williamson

The Breakup Bucket List, the brainchild of an...

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The Straight Dope About the Holidays: What to Expect, How to Make It to the New Year

(5) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 11:36 AM

I'm the kind of person who would rather hear it straight than have it sugar coated. For example, before my first colonoscopy, I asked friends to give me an uncensored account. They described the dreaded 24-hour prep in graphic detail, assuring me the procedure itself was no big deal in...

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Why I WISH I Had Time For A Midlife Crisis

(4) Comments | Posted November 7, 2013 | 5:46 AM

I just realized the other day that I'm at the age where I should be having my midlife crisis. In fact, when I think back, my parents went through theirs right about this same time of life. They separated in their mid-forties and my dad moved out. He bought himself...

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The 'Uncle Dad Syndrome': When Divorced Dads Act Like Carefree Uncles and Why Their Kids Feel Cheated

(307) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 10:22 AM

Some people call them "Disneyland Dads." I call them "Uncle Dads" -- divorced dads who parent the way you'd expect bachelor Uncle Bob to act when he watches your kids for the weekend. The "Uncle Dad Syndrome" is not just about indulging the kids. It's the entire personality of this...

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From Oprah to Chopra: Is All This Positive Thinking Really Making Us Feel Better?

(95) Comments | Posted January 14, 2013 | 2:15 AM

I must start this post with a mea culpa. I admit it, I've written about positive thinking during divorce. I'm as guilty as every other self-help writer in America who has prescribed affirmations, happy thoughts and goal-setting. I'm ready for detox, however. I'm at the point where I can hardly...

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The Game Changer of Divorce: A Genuine Apology

(33) Comments | Posted September 27, 2012 | 9:30 PM

How do you forgive the unforgivable?

This is a common question I get from divorcing clients, and one we should ask the family of Tim See. Tim See was the 17-year-old boy killed in a car accident by teen drunk driver Takunda Mavima. Another teen was also...

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Confessions of a Mother: Counting Down the Days Until School Starts

(4) Comments | Posted August 29, 2012 | 4:30 PM

It all started with a few bored 9-year-olds hanging around on a hot August day by the plum tree laden with overripe fruit -- and a bucket of water balloons I helped fill earlier in the day, thinking this would be a harmless way for the kids to cool off....

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What Smart Women Do After Divorce

(121) Comments | Posted March 9, 2012 | 12:00 PM

"Why do some women do well after divorce, while others get stuck?" a divorcing client asked me, confronting her worries head on. "I want to be happy again. I want to rely on myself and not be afraid of the future. I can't make it without his support, but it's...

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Why We Must Jump and Embrace Change: Lessons Learned From Boiled Frogs

(57) Comments | Posted January 5, 2012 | 8:10 PM

Mingling at a New Year's Eve party, I heard the "boiling frog story" for the first time. More an anecdote than a story, it goes like this: a frog will jump out if placed in a pan of boiling water, but if submerged in cold water that is...

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Sucking It Up For The Kids

(153) Comments | Posted November 16, 2011 | 4:16 AM

One of the nicest things my parents did after their divorce was to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner together as a family, not just one year but several. At the time, I didn't realize how unusual this was, nor did I have any understanding of how difficult this must have...

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Is Monogamy in Marriage Unrealistic?

(58) Comments | Posted May 23, 2011 | 5:33 PM

After years of handling divorces, I thought nothing could shock me. And then a client told me about Ashley Madison, the website for "The discreet who want to cheat." Their slogans are: "Life is short, have an affair," and "When divorce is not an option, isn't it time...

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The Silver Lining of Divorce

(21) Comments | Posted April 8, 2011 | 9:55 AM

Divorce is not a step most couples want to take. But when the papers are signed and the dust has settled, I've found that most couples ultimately recognize the insurmountable problems they had in their marriage.

Still, getting divorced is like going through chemotherapy to become cancer free. It...

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Is Your Ex Worse Than Charlie Sheen?

(84) Comments | Posted March 2, 2011 | 11:26 AM

Charlie Sheen keeps telling us he's special, but is he really that unique? We've read volumes about the king of custody battles, Alec Baldwin. We've followed the ranting of Mel Gibson, most recently from recorded tapes leaked by his ex-girlfriend during their child support battle.

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An Expert Weighs In on Forgiveness

(25) Comments | Posted February 16, 2011 | 12:38 AM

What a relief to drop the whole idea of forgiving your spouse after divorce...and instead just "move on" with your life. Hundreds of readers seemed to feel this way after reading Erica Manfred's provocative post, "Why Forgiveness is Overrated." After all, if you've been wronged by your ex,...

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The 12 Steps for Divorce

(24) Comments | Posted January 26, 2011 | 10:02 AM

I've watched friends get divorced and friends get sober, and it's always surprising to me how much the process is the same. Those first several months, it can be a struggle to make it through each day. For the alcoholic, the overwhelming urge is to take that drink. For the...

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Chinese Parenting--Divorce-Style

(17) Comments | Posted January 21, 2011 | 11:03 AM

Like most of America, I have been riveted by Amy Chua's Chinese parenting techniques described in the media over the past week. I've greedily followed the global debate about parenting methods--eastern vs. western.

The divorce lawyer in me, however, can't help imagining what Amy Chua's parenting experience...

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