collaborative law and mediation
Collaborative Law Attorney in Pittsburgh
At NNotaro Epstein Family Law Group, P.C., we're proud to have Bethany L. Notaro, Esq., on our team. An experienced family law attorney and certified professional divorce mediator, Bethany L. Notaro, Esq., understands how to help clients successfully navigate mediation and collaborative law disputes.
To schedule a consultation with our team and work on your case with Bethany L. Notaro, Esq., contact us online or via phone at (412) 281-1988.
What Is Mediation?
During mediation, two parties meet with a neutral third party (the mediator). The mediator acts as a third party neutral for the parties, helping them understand the individual needs of each family member and negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement that covers any and all issues relating to a divorce, support, and/or custody matter. Mediation can occur over just one or multiple sessions, depending on the complexity of the case.
Although mediators help parties reach an agreement, they cannot give legal advice. However, mediators may provide information relating to their experience, information relating to the parties' individual needs, or brainstorm unique ideas with the parties, as long as both parties give their permission to do so. In mediation, in addition to the mediator, parties may also obtain personal legal representation for individual legal advice.
Bethany L. Notaro, Esq. is a certified professional mediator. She can work with you and your spouse to negotiate an equitable arrangement in your case Attorney Notaro will speak with both of you together regarding the mediation process and how it would apply to your own unique needs.
What Is Collaborative Law?
Like mediation, collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Through a series of meetings, the parties, their attorneys, and often their coach and their neutral financial professional, will fully discuss a goal-oriented approach to settling their divorce and all related issues. If the parties negotiate an arrangement, the collaborative lawyers and the hired professionals will all assist in drafting an agreement.
A typical collaborative case would progress as follows:
1. The parties and their attorneys verbally agree to do collaborative. They exchange information about a coach, a financial professional, a custody professional, or any other neutral that they need to assist on the case. The attorneys may suggest professionals and discuss with the clients. The coach, the financial professional, and any other lawyers or professionals associated with CLASP (Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern PA) will do FREE 30 minute meetings with the clients. A full list of collaborative attorneys and professionals can be found on the CLASP website. The propose of the meeting is to explain the benefits of collaborative, how it relates the their unique case, and the role of the professional conducting the meeting in the process.
2. The clients report back and discuss choices for professionals with their collaborative attorneys.
3. Once the clients have ok'd the professionals, and the attorneys have ok'd the professionals, a short 30 minute professional team meeting may be scheduled by the attorneys and professionals to go over the case. The professionals would discuss the case and the agenda for the first meeting.
4. The first meeting is scheduled with all professionals and with the clients. Meetings ideally would be 3 total hours, with 2 of those having the clients present, and the remaining one for the professionals to discuss administrative duties in preparation for each meeting.
5. At the first meeting, all involved would do a typical "day one" agenda, involving the exchange of important documents, signing a collaborative agreement, and discussing timely issues. The parties, the attorneys, and all professionals including the coach and the financial neutral are on the collaborative agreement to sign. All professionals and the clients are at all of the meetings.
6. At the end of each meeting the participants discuss homework aka "action items" and get the next meeting scheduled. The participants continue until they reach an agreement which they then memorialize.
7. The meetings can take place at any of the professionals' offices or a combination thereof.
Most often, collaborative law cases will involve the participation of the parties, their attorneys, and usually a coach (a licensed doctor and/or psychologist) and a financial neutral (a licensed financial professional). Many times, since collaborative coaches are mainly doctors and psychologists, they will also act as the custody professional and may even conduct family sessions outside of the collaborative process. The financial neutral acts as organizer and analyzer of important financial documents and calculating the value of the marital estate. The financial neutral can also help to organize any valuations that need to be done to accurate assess and divide the value of each asset in the marital estate. Additionally, the financial neutral can compile data regarding the spouses' budgets and what their goals may be regarding alimony, child support, and family support going in to the future.
The collaborative process is a unique and effective way to settle a divorce through a thorough analysis of the spouses' future goals and the financial and psychological needs of their family.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (412) 281-1988.