In her professional life of nearly three decades, Soheila Azizi has practiced law as a trial lawyer, and the sole owner, of her litigation civil practice in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino county, as well as a conflict resolution professional for her non-profit Arbitration & Mediation Services non-profit entities.
In her personal life, Soheila is a social actor and a community activist. Soheila has founded or co-founded various public benefit organizations in San Bernardino county such as Women on the Move Network (for advancement and empowerment of young girls and women), CAMS (California Arbitration and Mediation Services, offering low cost mediation and conflict resolution services), the Upland Interfaith Council (a collaborative to build bridges of understanding and cooperation between community members and civic and business leaders), and People for Peace and Prosperity (A platform for change through community building models and best practices in inspirational education and empowerment founded on principles of oneness and justice).
Ms. Azizi’s passion and advocacy for justice sparked at a young age when she escaped her birth land in the midst of Iranian Revolution in 1979, desperate to change the consequent religious persecutions and gross human right violations committed against her faith community.
For the past 30 years, Ms. Azizi has dedicated her professional career and personal life to serving peace, justice and equity, in a compassionate and altruistic manner.
While her love for law and advocacy for those needing a voice has been the key to her very successful law practice, it is her drive to promote peace, justice and equity which has inspired her to dedicate her life to so many socio-economic projects, humanitarian movements and peace-making initiatives. Her approach to justice begins with the individual crusade to freedom from prejudice, an honest search for truth, a humble posture of learning, willingness to adopt new perspectives, abandoning all notions of “otherness” and a true commitment to action towards oneness.
Without this paradigm shift, Soheila believes, legislative action and legal authority can only go so far to fight the destructive forces so rampant in our society today. Among Ms. Azizi is the recipient of many humanitarian awards and recognitions, has taught courses as Adjunct Professor of Law, offers voluntary mediation, arbitration and judge pro-tem services to local courts and county bars, offers numerous hours of free legal services to public, writes articles, holds regular monthly educational workshops and discussion series, serves on the administrative body of many boards including the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i Faith in Upland, is a regular TV show guest and co-host on various subjects related to social action, justice and equity, and sponsors/co-sponsors conferences on various human rights violations.
In a recent episode of the The Business Leader Spotlight Show, Head Counsel Soheila Azizi offered insight into divorce litigation, mediation, and family law in general.
Ms. Azizi, an expert in mediation and alternative dispute resolution, discussed in detail what California residents can expect when seeking a divorce. Each unique situation requires a unique solution, and the Law Offices of Soheila Azizi and Associates, P.C. prides itself on coming up with creative solutions.
“I feel that [family law] is an area of the law that needs the most amount of education for the public, and it gives me a special sense of satisfaction to see the parties being presented with options,” Azizi said in the interview. “An attorney’s job goes beyond knowing the law. It has to deal with knowing psychology, having people skills, and being able to listen, create, and draft a solution for that particular individual.”
Knowledge, insight Freedom
Saturday November 14, 2015, focusing on the exemplary role of Tahirih, the 19th century Persian Heroine, writer, poet, and the far reaching effects of her sacrificial contribution to the global women’s movement , as well as to the emancipation of men and women from the oppressive dogmas imposed by the social, cultural, and religious forces of the time.
Tahirih Role in the Fight against the Reactionary Orthodoxy and Oppression of Women
Client expectations are one of the most difficult issues that an attorney will face, and family law attorneys should be equipped to handle these expectations.
“In a family law area, [client] expectations are much more difficult to handle because emotions are extremely high. You deal with people who come in with frustrations, the highest levels of anxiety, fear of the unknown, and often feelings of defeat and betrayal,” Azizi explains. “People are not given education on what to expect when they enter into a union, and most certainly many people are not given information about how to deal with children and raising children with differences of opinion between partners to a union. Those are the major causes of conflict, and when people come to an attorney’s office looking for answers, they often feel that they have the answers—they just want the attorney to deliver those results to them. That’s one of the most difficult expectations that an attorney must know how to deal with.”
Head counsel Soheila Azizi also explains how she works to treat clients and their expectations with respect in family law practice.
“Knowing ahead of time that people’s expectations should be handled gently and with a lot of care is what I have used as a tool in my practice,” she said. “I listen to them and I create a solution for them. And once they learn and they realize that there are solutions, it decreases their anxiety level, it decreases their anger and frustration level.”
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to give a “standard timeline” for a California divorce.
“It’s almost like asking ‘How can I see Europe and how much will it cost me?’” Azizi said. “It is all dependent on the manner in which people wish to travel this journey of litigating a divorce.”
However, there are ways to speed up the litigation process while at the same time decreasing the stress and conflict involved. Mediation and arbitration are two alternatives to traditional divorce litigation that allow both parties to work together to come up with a solution. If two parties can come to an agreement about division of assets, child custody, and other issues of divorce, an attorney can write up a stipulation; once signed, this agreement becomes legally binding.
It is important to note that, in the state of California, there is a six-month buffer period in place. In other words, a divorce cannot be finalized until six months and one day after the initial paperwork is filed. This time period allows both parties to think through the situation completely and make sure they are satisfied with the final decision. For couples with a more “simple” divorce (i.e. no children, limited assets), the process may take only six months. For couples with children, many shared assets, shared business, or other issues, it could take considerably longer.
“[Clients] come in saying they learned about an affair, they learned about something that creates urgency in their life, and they want to file a divorce document that day. When I explain to them that this process, in California, can take as short as a few months or as long as several years, they are surprised and shocked,” Azizi said. “However, they are pleasantly surprised to learn that it is in their control to reduce the amount of tension so that this process does not take years and years.”
It is important for clients to be wary of the “free consultations” offered by attorneys throughout the state. These consultations may have hidden fees, or they may not offer all the information that a client is looking for when he or she comes in seeking a divorce.
“My experience and understanding in this area is that the attorneys who offer free consultations are mostly to screen the individual, to get to know [the attorney], and for the attorney to get to know them. That’s where the initial consult ends,” Azizi explains. “A client might say ‘I went in, they told me it was a free consult. Next thing I knew, I got my retainer reduced by about $1,000 for that very first session.’ Again, talking about expectations. Do people know what they’re getting into?”
Before setting up a “free consultation,” ask the attorney the following questions: