E-mail MeMatthew Long
My goal is to exceed my client's expectations while resolving their family law disputes in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. I bring to bear fourteen years of legal experience while serving my clients with the utmost integrity and professionalism. I look forward to assisting you in resolving your family law problems through any one of the following methods:
1. Family Law Mediation. I am able to utilize a number of different mediation techniques to assist couples in negotiating their own unique solutions to the problems involved in separating a family's property, resources, and children. Mediation can be a wonderful method of resolving family law issues - even for those couples with a high level of conflict. In fact, mediation can often transform the entire nature of the conflict from one of adversarial warfare to cooperative problem solving.
As a mediator my function is to:
(1) act as a neutral third party who facilitates direct negotiations between spouses;
(2) provide legal, psychological, and practical education on the issues to be resolved: and
(3) assist the parties in identifying all possible alternative solutions.
If necessary, I will aid the parties in arranging for other professional services that may be needed in reaching an agreement ( e.g., property and business appraisals, tax consultation, psychological consultation, etc.). When appropriate I will draft a written settlement agreement that undertakes to clearly address all of the issues which need to be resolved in order to achieve a complete solution. Finally, on request, I will prepare the judicial counsel forms necessary to ensure that the agreement is properly implemented by the courts.
Mediation works best when each party takes advantage of professional legal advice from a qualified family law attorney prior to entering into any final agreement. It does not require both parties to be "good negotiators" nor does it require both parties to be "strong." My job as a mediator is to help you to be a good negotiator and to help you to be strong. Mediation does require that both parties are willing to risk the time, energy, and resources necessary to reach an agreement. Mediation should not be utilized as a dispute resolution method if one of the parties is impaired by a mental or emotional illness or drug addiction.
You or your spouse may be unwilling to engage in mediation out of fear - fear of looking foolish or uneducated compared to your spouse, fear of being unable to tolerate the emotional turmoil of negotiation, or simple fear of making a mistake. An alternative that attempts to address these fears is collaborative family law.
2. Collaborative Family Law. Collaborative family law is like mediation in that it involves a commitment to achieving a negotiated solution - but it provides each party with an attorney who will be by their side throughout the process. Collaborative family law is distinguished from family law litigation in that the attorneys are contractually restrained from representing their clients in court. This means that neither attorney has a financial incentive to be unreasonable nor threatening. By agreeing to attempt to resolve the case through the collaborative law process, both the attorneys and the clients are signaling their commitment to a negotiated settlement.
As a collaborative lawyer, my job is much like a mediator: to facilitate negotiation between the spouses; to provide education, and to assist the parties in identifying all possible alternative solutions. The collaborative lawyer, however, is able to take one more step. Because the collaborative lawyer is not required to remain "neutral," the collaborative lawyer will attempt to make predictions regarding possible outcomes in court. As various alternative solutions are proposed, the collaborative lawyer is able to give their clients immediate feedback on how that particular solution compares to what a judge might (or might not) do. Although predicting what a judge might do in any particular situation is a hazardous proposition at best, an honest assessment of each parties litigation prospects can be a comfort (or at least a reality check) during difficult negotiations.
For further information on Collaborative Family Law in Santa Barbara, see
Because the collaborative family law process involves paying two professionals instead of one, each meeting will, of course, be more expensive than mediation. However, if it provides reassurance for both parties in "real time" during the negotiations, it can be a more cost effective process if it avoids the timid or circular negotiating that can result from the insecurity of "going it alone" in mediation. Although no one can guarantee that an agreement will be reached, it is almost always less expensive then resolving the issues through family law litigation.
3. Family Law Litigation. Although family law litigation does not necessarily result in a court hearing (in fact most "litigated" cases end up settling without going to trial), "litigation" is characterized by the impending threat of a court hearing or trial. Although I firmly believe the mediation or collaborative law processes are far superior methods of resolving family law conflicts - both of these methods require the parties to reach agreements, first on the process and then on a solution. If your spouse is unwilling to even start with mediation or a collaborative lawyer, you may have no choice but to utilize the litigation process.
My focus as a family law litigator is on reasoned and professional advocacy, continually providing my client's with informed choices, and always preparing for the "end game" - a positive outcome at trial (if necessary).
a. "Reasoned and Professional Advocacy." I believe your position can be forcefully articulated without engaging in name calling, exaggeration, or unreasonable threats. Letters should never be written for the sole purpose of "venting" - but should be focused on the goal of convincing the opposition that settlement will bring them a better result than trial. Declarations should not be written for the purpose of character assassination (which rarely works anyway), but for the purpose of advancing the client's theory of the case - a theory calculated achieving the desired result.
b. "Providing Informed Choices." I make it my practice to avoid telling my client's what we will do. I try instead to provide my clients, within the boundaries of ethics and professionalism, a series of informed choices. Litigation, as with everything else, carries with it risks that must be evaluated. It is my job to provide you with the information with which you can reasonably evaluate the risks of trial and risks of settlement. It is your job to determine what level of risk you can tolerate. Unfortunately, there are cases in which the opposing side takes a settlement approach which makes the risks of trial the more attractive path.
c. "Focusing on the End Game." It is important to remain focused on the "end game," which must always be a positive result either through trial or settlement. The most effective way of bringing about an appropriate result through settlement is to assemble the evidence necessary to take the matter to trial. Your efforts to obtain the appropriate evidence will make it clear to the other side that you are serious - and when you obtain the appropriate evidence it will make it clear to the other side that you are likely to prevail at trial. It can often be tempting in family law cases to be distracted by the inappropriate letters that are sometime written, or the unreasonable positions that are taken. You may have the urge to demonstrate that you are "right," or to demonstrate that your opinion of your former spouse has now been vindicated. While this urge is understandable, my job is to ensure that the focus remains on achieving an appropriate resolution of the case.
Certified as a Specialist in Family Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.
Areas of Practice
- Child Support
- Family Law
- Custody & Visitation
- Probate & Estate Administration
- California, 1990
- U.S. District Court Central District of California, 1992
- McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, Sacramento, California
- Juris Doctor
- Honors: with Distinction (top 10%)
- California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California, USA
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Honors and Awards
- Mr. Long has been give a “BV” rating by his peers, defined as a “Very High Rating in Both Legal Ability & Ethical Standards” through the Martindal-Hubbell® peer review process.