Law Office of Nancy Madsen

Law Office of Nancy Madsen

Firm Overview

I am a sole practitioner. I have focused my practice on family law since joining the Bar in 1976 and I have emphasized mediation since 1978. I have successfully mediated over 3,000 cases. Example cases: I have successfully mediated many divorce cases involving millions of dollars in assets, complex spousal support issues, and very contentious child custody issues. In addition, I often efficiently assist clients in settling lower-asset cases for a reasonable price.

Main Office

1714 Olive St
Santa Barbara CA 93101


(805) 564-4481


Free Initial Consultation?

I offer a free initial consultation for potential mediation clients; this consultation does not include legal anaylis.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?

I charge $390 to handle all court forms for a divorce with children and $350 for all court forms for a divorce without children. Please note: these fees do NOT include my time for mediation or consultation, nor for the creation and processing of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (for the division of retirement benefits).

Hourly Rates

$375 per hour for mediation; $325 per hour for consultation.

Office Information

Office Hours

By appointment, including evenings and weekends

Office Manager


Emergency After Hours


Languages Spoken


How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

The rate of divorce remains high in California, and experts in the field of psychology have long indicated that divorce can be highly traumatic to the parties--even more difficult than the death of a spouse. My mediation and consultation services provide an efficient, supportive and cost-effective way to resolve legal issues for people going through this difficult time.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

It is always good when clients learn as much as they can about the legal issues that affect their lives, and it is important that they also consult with an expert attorney in the field to be sure that no important issues are overlooked or misunderstood. Family law in particular has many issues that are potentially complicated and difficult, such as tax planning, division of retirement benefits, child and spousal support, and real estate sales.

Mediation provides an ideal setting for clients to efficiently ask questions and resolve issues without litigation. Consultation with an expert family law attorney prior to commencing a do-it-yourself divorce or a mediated divorce is an important investment that can help to secure a good outcome.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I believe that it is good when clients empower themselves. Therefore, I am willing to review documents prepared by clients to be sure that they are correct. My fees for this service are modest.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

Again, I believe that it is good when clients empower themselves. Therefore, I am willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves, provided that the scope of my services is clarified in writing.

Nancy Madsen

Law Office of Nancy Madsen

I have worked as a sole practitioner, as a partner in the Mediation Center for Family Law, and in the law firms of Madsen & Johnson and Madsen & Stearns. At present, I am a sole practitioner. I was the first Family Custody Mediator for the County of Santa Barbara Superior Court and served in that role between 1981 and 1985. I have mediated over 3,000 family law cases.My work as Santa Barbara County Superior Court's first Family Custody Mediator provided me with extensive experience in working with parents and children who are going through the trauma and confusion of separation and divorce. In that job, I worked with over 1,300 families. That experience taught me how to create a calm and supportive environment for clients who are under great stress and how to help them focus on resolving their issues in a healthy way. During my 20 years of litigation experience, I represented husbands and fathers as well as wives and mothers; I have represented unmarried fathers seeking custody of their children, birth mothers placing their children for adoption, and adoptive parents; I have mediated the dissolving relationships of same-sex couples. Through this work, I have learned to anticipate and appreciate the various life experiences, fears, hopes and needs of my current mediation and consultation clients and this is valuable to our work together. In addition, my training as a social worker included significant clinical training, and although my mediation and consultation services are not clinical therapy, there is often a therapeutic side-effect to our work.I bring a unique combination of training, experience and expertise to my work: I served as Santa Barbara County Superior Court's first custody mediator; with a colleague, I designed the county's mandatory parent education course "Children in the Middle" (now known as PEACE). I have a Master's Degree in Social Welfare; I have successfully litigated hundreds of cases; and I have successfully mediated at least 3,000 cases. I am not troubled by people's emotions during mediation or consultation, and I know how to create and maintain a calm and supportive environment.

I do not have a set style in my work; instead, I approach each case as unique and work in whatever way is best for the client(s) before me. I've found that some mediation clients need a highly structured environment with a great deal of direction, which I provide as needed. Other clients are quite able, with the benefit of my guidance and the neutral setting my office provides, to make progress with less structure. I assess the needs of new clients and respond accordingly. My goal is to help clients learn what they need to know, assist them in their negotiation process, and to draft their legal documents competently and efficiently. I am casual, unpretentious, and flexible. I think and work fast and I am proud to offer high-quality, cost-effective services. I am proud that my primary referral sources for new clients are previously satisfied clients, other attorneys, therapists, and other mental health professionals .Personal interests: I'm interested in the natural world, especially the mountains, music, yoga, foreign travel, and social justice. I'm close to my family and am fortunate to have close friends.


Bar Number: 71779
California, 1976


UCLA School of Public Affairs
Masters of Social Welfare, 1997

UCLA School of Law
Juris Doctor, 1976

University of California
Bachelor of Arts, 1971

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