Valerie Fenchel: Founder & Principal Attorney
Valerie Fenchel is the founder of Fenchel Family Law. Her legal services empower men and women to navigate marriage and divorce toward more vibrant futures. She advises clients, devises strategies, and works with therapists, actuaries, and forensic accountants to settle or litigate cases. As a witness to the damage caused by divorce over the course of her career as a family law attorney and educator, Valerie has gained extensive experience in helping families in crisis.
Valerie is actively involved in the legal community. She is the Lead Attorney of Shalom Bayit’s Pro Bono Legal Panel, Secretary of the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco, and is completing a fellowship on the board of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay.
Valerie previously managed the care and education for children and is passionate about protecting the best interest of children. She excels at crafting parenting plans, negotiating settlements and litigating custody battles on behalf of parents that are able to put their child’s needs first. She has experience helping parents of newborns, toddlers, special needs children, and defiant teenagers. She understands that every child is different, and that each child’s parenting plan and care must be narrowly tailored to meet his/her needs, either by agreement or Court order.
Valerie is an experienced negotiator, and aims to support the goals and values of families and serve the best interests of parents and their children through settlements. She belongs to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, which aims to resolve family problems.
She explains to her clients that once court intervention is sought, a perfect stranger on the bench is permitted to make orders over their intimate personal matters. For this reason, resolving cases through negotiation and cooperative counsel is usually recommended.
Valerie understands that litigation may be a client’s only choice especially when there is an imbalance of power dynamics or the other parent is unwilling to put the children’s best interest first. In these situations, Valerie does not hesitate to escalate the matter to Court, and is at home in the courtroom with her litigation training and aptitude. She honed her litigation skills through honors programs with both the Office of the Attorney General in San Francisco, California, and the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C., and has presented winning oral arguments before California’s First and Sixth Courts of Appeal. She continues to present winning arguments to the Family Courts, which have resulted in her clients being awarded the custodial rights and financial relief that they deserve.
Valerie only accepts clients that are able to treat their partner with respect and protect the best interests of their children. She treats her clients like family and provides the level of attention and care required to assure that they are always informed and empowered throughout the legal process. Valerie advises clients solely based on what she believes is in their best interest, even if that means advising her clients to not file for divorce, or requiring that her clients complete several sessions with a therapist before moving forward with a parenting plan.
Valerie graduated Phi Beta Kappa with High Honors from UC Santa Barbara and earned her J.D. from UC Davis School of Law where she served as President of the Negotiations Team. She previously practiced exclusively family law at premier law firms in the San Francisco Bay area, which focused on the representation of high net worth individuals and families. She lectures college students and addresses professional groups on pertinent family law issues. Valerie was nominated as a Rising Star for Super Lawyers.
Valerie jokes that family law is in her blood. Her mother, and Fenchel Family Law’s Of-Counsel, has a Mediation and Collaborative family law practice in Walnut Creek, and her father is a forensic accountant that has served as expert witness on behalf of family law litigants. When she is not working, you can find Valerie watching Shark Tank, jogging along the Bay, or planning her next beach vacation.
Karen Fenchel: Of-Counsel
Karen Fenchel utilizes her training in both mediation and collaborative practice to assist families in crisis and help them gain control of their lives. Her practice is settlement oriented and includes both family law mediation and collaborative law. Karen has a strong commitment to helping clients resolve issues without going to court. Through mediation, collaborative process and negotiated settlements, she works toward equitable solutions that consider the best interests of all parties and their children.
Karen was admitted to the bar in 1983 and has practiced exclusively in the area of family law. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist and a 2019 Super Lawyer for her excellence in practice. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, master’s degree from San Francisco State University in special education and JD from Hastings College of the Law. Her background includes teaching in the areas of elementary school and special education in addition to teacher training.
Karen has previously served as a member of the steering committee of Collaborative Practice East Bay and chair of their programming committee. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Collaborative Practice California.
She is also a member of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, including both the Family Law and Women’s Section, having served on the Family Board for six years.
Karen is passionate about giving back to her community. She is very involved in pro bono work in Contra Costa County. She has participated in assisting judges to resolve cases with two self-represented parties. Karen provides mediation consultation through the Contra Costa Bar Association FLARE program. Currently, she acts as a docent for the court, taking school children through the superior court and instructing them as to how the legal system functions. She recently completed a leadership class through Contra Costa County which she plans to use as a springboard to her continued volunteer work.
Karen is Super Lawyer.
Sharon Walther: Senior Paralegal
Sharon compassionately helps navigate through what is often described by our clients as the worst times of their lives keeps them focused on moving their lives forward with her combination of experience, empathy, and humor.
Sharon’s dedication to her job is like no paralegal we have ever met. When she is not meeting with our clients at our office, she may be found personally assisting our clients at their homes, tracking down an opposing party evading service, or personally assuring third parties, police officers, or expert witnesses are doing what is required to protect our clients’ best interest and help their families.
With Sharon on their side, our clients are always kept informed and updated on the status of their case. She is the attorney’s liaison with the court and continues to keep the court staff on their toes.
She has extensive experience performing family law paralegal work both in private practice and for the county courts, and an in-depth understanding of the processes necessary to move a family law case forward.
Sharon has experience working in all of the Bay Area family law courts, as well as San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. She has developed an extensive list of court resources, contacts, and savvy fixes for the various kinds of emergencies and crises presented by our clients’ family situations.
When she is not working as our magical unicorn, Sharon is enjoying her 4 children and grandson, playing with her dog, Chloe, or planning her next adventure.