Raquel L. Sefton
Ms. Sefton focuses her practice exclusively on complex family law matters and counsels clients through transitions from beginning to end (from cohabitation agreements to family law disputes after death). She negotiates and drafts co-habitation, premarital (“prenups”), post-nuptial, and legal separation and dissolution agreements for marriages as well as for domestic partners and same-sex partners. She is the managing partner of the firm. She has been practicing nearly twenty five years and began her family law focus in law school as a member of the prestigious Harvard Legal Aid Bureau representing indigent clients exclusively in family law matters. In that role she acted both as an advocate and teacher working with clients in their pro se divorce clinic to teach clients to help themselves in simple divorce cases. As a member of the Bureau, she conducted her first family law trial–a custody matter involving sexual abuse allegations.
Since those early days at the Bureau, Ms. Sefton has tailored and narrowed her practice to represent clients and families in the difficult and nuanced practice that is family law. She has grown and shaped the practice to proactively represent clients in a variety of forums and through a variety of procedures from negotiating confidential agreements that never see the light of day to contested matters before private and public adjudicators. Along the way, Ms. Sefton has deepened her skill set exposing herself to tax, transactional, international, immigration, start ups, complex compensation and corporate structures and trusts and estates.
Ms. Sefton specializes in complex financial and personal matters. A Certified Family Law Specialist, as certified by the California State Bar’s Board of Specialization, Ms. Sefton guides clients through high asset dissolutions involving questions of complex valuation, income determination and asset division. With her “big firm” background and ease with multifaceted financial matters, she comprehensively addresses complex valuation issues, private equity and hedge funds, stock options, limited partnerships, privately held businesses, and residential and commercial real estate. She knows how to work well with business owners as well as those with legacy wealth or careers focused on raising children or supporting a family at home. With a keen focus on the nuanced issues relating to child custody, Ms. Sefton assists parents, children and families through difficult transitions. She negotiates and litigates spousal and child support and child custody issues. In addition, Ms. Sefton handles domestic violence proceedings, and paternity counseling, mediation and litigation. Ms. Sefton also acts in mediation and other neutral work as a consulting attorney, mediator, special master or private judge.
Ms. Sefton’s legal depth allows her to tackle the most complex issues, including appeals. Ms. Sefton has negotiated and litigated a variety of matters including jurisdictional disputes, conflict of laws, the interplay of family law and probate law, among others. She has litigated and settled appeals on a variety of family law issues. Her practice includes international cases both in Europe and Asia.
Ms. Sefton gears her strategy to her client’s needs and goals as well as their specific circumstances. She has represented individuals, families and entities (corporations, hedge funds, partnerships, closely held companies) facing the most complex family law matters and seeks to ensure that her clients maintain their integrity and focus in what can be one of the most challenging areas of the law.
Prior to founding Apex Family Law, Ms. Sefton headed Sideman & Bancroft’s Family Law Practice which USA Today voted as the Best Family Law Firm in San Francisco in 2010 during her management of the practice. Before practicing at Sideman & Bancroft, Ms. Sefton was a partner at Folger, Levin & Kahn LLP in San Francisco, where she founded their family law practice. After graduation practiced in Latham & Watkins’ Los Angeles office as an attorney focusing on tax and litigation.
- B.S. Applied Mathematics, University of California at Los Angeles, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors for graduation from Honors Collegium Program
- J.D., Harvard Law School, magna cum laude
PROFESSIONAL & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT INCLUDING HONORS AND AWARDS
- Certified Family Law Specialist, as certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization since 2008
- Recognized as a SuperLawyer© for many years
- Board Member Harvard Law School Association of Northern California
- Group Leader of a San Francisco ProVisors© group as well as a member of the Bay Areas Lawyers and Bay Area’s Women Affinity Groups
- Board Member for Clairobscur Dance Company, a Los Angeles dance company
- Settlement Master San Francisco, Alameda and San Mateo Superior Courts (settling dissolution and other contested matters)
- Chair (2008-2009) and Vice Chair (2007) Family Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco
- Member of the Family Law Sections of the Bar Association of San Francisco, San Mateo County Bar, Alameda County Bar and Los Angeles County Bar Associations as well as the American Bar Association
- Member of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
- Author of numerous articles on family law issues and regular speaker on family law subjects