Forrest (Woody) Mosten

Certified Family Law Specialist

Biographical Info

Working with families in Collaborative Practice and Mediation is my life’s work. I am a full-time family peacemaker and never go to court on any case.

I am honored to be a member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego. Collaborative Practice requires teamwork. By having members of this practice group as colleagues, my clients are assured the highest standard of professional care and competence.

While most of my law and mediation career has been based in Los Angeles, due to our children and grandchildren living in La Jolla, in 2012, my wife and I bought a home here. I am delighted to now have my practice in the San Diego area. I have had the opportunity to teach at two of San Diego’s excellent law schools: Legal Ethics at the University of San Diego and Innovative Law Practice at Cal Western.


  • University of California, Riverside AB (Phi Beta Kappa) 1969
  • UCLA School of Law, JD 1972

Bar Admissions / Professional Licensing

  • State Bar of California, Admitted December 1972
  • Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California Board of Specialization (1987-Present)

Memberships and Honors

  • Member: Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego
  • Member: Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association
  • Member: Collaborative Practice California
  • Member: International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Member: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Member: American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section
  • Member: California State Bar Family Law Section
  • Member: American Bar Association Family Law Section
  • Member: Los Angeles County Bar Family Law Section
  • Member: Southern California Mediation Association

Selected Awards

  • Southern California Mediation Association, President’s Award (2017)
  • Super Lawyer in Family Law and Mediation (2005-2018)
  • Professor Frank Sander Co-Lecturer, American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section (2009)
  • Lawyer as Problem Solver Award, American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section (2004)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovations in Legal Access, American Bar Association Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services (2004)
  • Southern California Mediation Association, Peacemaker of the Year (1999)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Conflict Prevention Award (1996)
  • Beverly Hills Bar President’s Award for contributions to Mediation (1996)
  • Chair, International Client Consultation Competition (affiliated with International Bar Association (1989-Present)

Books and Publications

  • Building a Successful Collaborative Practice (ABA, 2018) – by Forrest S. Mosten and Adam Cordover
  • Unbundled Legal Services (ABA 2017) – by Forrest S. Mosten and Elizabeth Potter Scully
  • The Complete Guide to Mediation with Elizabeth Scully, 2nd Edition (ABA, 2015) – by Forrest S. Mosten and Elizabeth Potter Scully
  • Mediation Career Guide ( John Wiley, 2001) – by Forrest S. Mosten
  • Collaborative Divorce Handbook (John Wiley, 2009) – by Forrest S. Mosten

Relevant Services and Practice Experience

Collaborative Attorney: I have successfully practiced in the collaborative model since 1998 either with an interdisciplinary team model or working with parties and lawyers only. In every case, I meet with the other lawyer to mutually plan for a successful outcome. I have written two books and many articles on Collaborative Practice, train Collaborative Professionals throughout the country, and am speaker at statewide and national collaborative professional conferences.

Neutral Family Mediator: I have practiced family mediation working with both parties since 1979. I have written three books and numerous articles on the skills and strategy of mediation. I have been credited with developing mediation innovations such as party opening statements, preliminary private planning sessions, mediator settlement proposals, confidential mini-evaluations, and management and design of pre-settlement disputes. I have been an Adjunct Professor of Law at UCLA since 2002 teaching Mediation, Lawyer as Problem Solver and Family Law Practice.

Interdisciplinary Co-Mediation: For over 30 years, I have worked with therapists and financial professionals as co-mediators. I have been trained by therapists in active listening, family systems interventions, child development, high conflict, and discernment counseling. I have facilitated interdisciplinary practice study groups privately and for the Academy of Professional Family Mediators.
(my current private group has been going strong for over a decade).

Representation of Clients Participating in Mediation with Another Mediator — Many clients involved in mediation want the advice and support from an experienced family lawyer with collaborative and mediation training and approach. Clients seem to appreciate having me serve as their legal coach to maximize their success at mediation sessions or to attend mediation sessions with them. When we work together this way, you are the captain of our team and my job is to minimize the possibility that your mediation will terminate and you end up in litigation. My 2015 ABA book (Complete Guide to Mediation, 2nd Edition) is a practice guide for lawyers to play this role in mediations. If you want to limit lawyer involvement and fees but still receive my professional help, I am flexible in working out this type of representation for you to take advantage of the many benefits of mediation.

Premarital, Post-marital, and Cohabitation Agreements — Using a collaborative approach, I enjoy helping clients improve their relationships by preventing future conflicts in these important family relationships. In addition to involving the parties to directly communicate with each other, you and your partner may benefit from the involvement of mental health professionals and financial experts to maximize legal and emotional protections for both of you and to minimize fees now and in the future by including dispute resolution provisions in your agreement.

Limited Scope Representation (Unbundling): Legal Advice, Drafting, Negotiation to clients who choose to do much of their own legal work. Over 60% of people with family law concerns resolve their issues without using lawyers at all and often face great challenges in trying to navigate the system and to negotiate with your partner (or lawyer). In 1991, I pioneered a way for you to work with me so that you only pay me for the work that you want me to do and you do the rest. This is called unbundled legal services. My 2017 ABA Book, many articles and my trainings for other lawyers can pay dividends for you if we work together. I would be pleased to discuss with you how unbundling can permit you to maintain control over your life and save you significant money.

My Approach and Key Values to Helping Clients Going Through Family Re-organization

I work with people faced with issues regarding property, support, parenting and other family law matters which often involve substantial assets and high conflict. I offer all of my clients an unwavering commitment to provide you informed consent regarding the best process for you to reach a settlement as quickly, privately, and cost- effectively as possible. As part of informed consent, I offer you and every client a written estimate of the range of fees that you can expect. Most importantly, I am dedicated to work with you and your partner in a respectful and dignified manner that will attempt to avoid harm and maximize future positive relationships in your family.

I promise to work tirelessly for you to keep control over your life and be able to emotionally and financially move on to life’s next chapter. We will be partners in providing your family the opportunity to stay out of court, even when our efforts may be initially rebuffed and possibilities for peaceful resolution may appear remote.