FAIRFIELD — It’s not hyperbole to say that divorce and other family interruptions are among the most stressful events in life that a person can face.
Being an attorney representing someone in such circumstances means one is constantly dealing with people in crisis. For the Law Office of Susan E. Christiansen, that means serving as a lawyer or mediator with a goal of getting people past the difficult time so they can move on with their lives.
“We are more ‘customer service’ aware than other offices,’” said paralegal, certified mediator and husband of Susan, Gerald W. Christiansen. “We come from a retail background. We consider our consultations as an opportunity to learn more about you.”
Getting to know clients not only helps them with their case, but helps them fill in any blanks about the process.
“It’s not about us,” Christiansen said. “It’s about you.”
Christiansen is a straight-shooter and it shows. He knows that people are at a vulnerable part of their lives, often, he says, due to self-imposed issues. He and his wife are there to offer help, education and a reality check. Many times couples or families just need an impartial mediator to settle things out of the courtroom, for example.
“We are different. We do an awful lot of mediation here,” he said. “I explain everything you need to do and will help you through it.”
The Christiansens will also tell clients what they need to do outside of their purview, making sure they have a clear road map toward their new life.
Ask if it takes a toll to constantly be working with people in crisis, and how do they unwind? Christiansen gives a knowing grin.
“You can’t unwind, because you’re never done,” he said. “It’s like laundry. It doesn’t end.”
Of course, helping clients “win” in whatever way that presents itself offers satisfaction. And both husband and wife enjoy ongoing education about new law or even helping others understand the law. In fact, Christiansen has started DIY family law classes on site. He said that courts are currently “a mess” due to Covid-19 backups, etc., and now more than ever it helps both the courts and individuals when more people understand the law and its processes.
Christiansen will teach you how to fill out family court papers, such as divorce, custody or child support. The classes are evenings and weekends, and he offers use of his computers along with how-to instruction. When you are done, Christiansen will file the papers for you.
Similar services are free through the Family Law Facilitator program with the courts, but Christiansen asks, “What’s the value of ‘free?’ I will teach you how to do it.”
In the end, he said it saves time and money to be prepared with a professional. And again, in an industry peppered with egos, the Christiansens pride themselves on being “for the people.”
“You’re here for my help. You’re not here to find out about me,” he said.
The Law Office of Susan E. Christiansen
• Address: 1710 Pennsylvania Ave.
• Phone: 707-427-6784
• Website: diyfamilylaw.us