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Litigation. Collaborative Law. Mediation.
WESTCHESTER Collaborative Law ATTORNEYS Our firm is one of the largest matrimonial law firms in New York City that offers all three ways to divorce. Let us help you choose the best option for you and your family.

Westchester Collaborative Divorce Lawyers

Dedicated to fair and equitable settlements in Westchester County, NY

Collaborative divorce is a structured process for spouses looking to end their marriages and would like to be represented by counsel for the purpose of negotiating a non-litigated comprehensive agreement.  Best practices include a Collaborative team that includes, depending on the circumstances, a neutral financial advisor and a mental health professional to fully address all issues involved to meet the needs of the entire family.

Parties and counsel (and the other team members) formally commit through a Participation Agreement to work together to achieve a mutually agreeable settlement without the pressure of court driven deadlines and participation. Collaborative law allows you and your spouse to openly discuss matters of importance with the legal assistance of your attorneys. Our attorneys guide you to understand what documents and information must be collected and if any other professionals must be retained. These types of individuals could include child psychologists, forensic accountants, or any other number of specialists.

The Westchester County divorce attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP have decades of combined experience in Collaborative law, have been trained by the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals, and can ensure your best interests are represented throughout the process.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

Collaborative divorce is a process in which divorcing couples work together, with the support of trained professionals, to reach agreements on all aspects of their divorce without going to court.

Each party is represented by a Collaboratively trained attorney whose role is to counsel you through the divorce process and work with your spouse’s attorney (and the team if assembled) in order to reach a mutually agreeable global agreement. This agreement will be the basis of an uncontested divorce judgment.

Critical to this process is the agreed focus to participate in good faith negotiations and voluntarily share all relevant information, that respects the need to identify what is important to you as the family restructures.

Here's an overview of the process in New York:

  1. Initial Consultation: Both spouses meet with Collaborative divorce attorneys separately to discuss the process and determine if it's suitable for their situation. They'll also discuss their goals and concerns.
  2. Commitment to Collaboration: If both spouses decide to proceed with a Collaborative divorce, they sign a participation agreement committing to resolve all issues outside of court and to openly share information.
  3. Formation of the Collaborative Team: Each spouse selects their own collaborative attorney. Additionally, the team may include neutral professionals such as financial specialists, mental health professionals, and child specialists if needed.
  4. Initial Meetings: The spouses and their attorneys meet together to establish the agenda and priorities for the divorce process. They may discuss issues such as child custody, support, division of assets, and any other relevant matters.
  5. Joint Sessions: Throughout the Collaborative process, the spouses and their attorneys meet in joint sessions to discuss and negotiate terms of the divorce settlement. The neutral professionals may also be present to provide guidance and support.
  6. Negotiation and Problem-Solving: The spouses work together to find mutually acceptable solutions to each issue. Attorneys facilitate discussions and provide legal advice, while neutral professionals offer insights and expertise in their respective fields.
  7. Drafting the Settlement Agreement: Once the spouses reach agreements on all issues, their attorneys draft a settlement agreement that reflects their decisions. This document outlines the terms of the divorce, including custody arrangements, support payments, property division, and any other relevant provisions.
  8. Review and Finalization: Both spouses review the settlement agreement with their attorneys to ensure it accurately reflects their intentions and interests. Once finalized, the agreement is signed by both parties and submitted to the court for approval.
  9. Court Approval: In New York, a judge reviews the settlement agreement to ensure it meets legal requirements and is in the best interests of any children involved. If everything is in order, the court issues a divorce decree finalizing the divorce.
  10. Post-Divorce Support: Collaborative professionals may provide support and resources to help the spouses transition into post-divorce life, especially if there are ongoing co-parenting or financial matters to address.

If the collaborative process breaks down, the spouses may choose to transition to traditional litigation. This involves each spouse hiring new attorneys to represent them in court, where a judge will make decisions on unresolved issues such as asset division, child custody, and support payments.

However, even if collaborative divorce fails, the spouses may still choose to continue negotiating outside of court with the assistance of their attorneys. They may revisit certain issues or explore new approaches to reach agreements without formal court proceedings.

Advantages of Collaborative Divorce in Westchester

Collaborative law has distinct benefits. These include:

  • Avoiding court. With a Collaborative divorce, you won’t have to litigate your divorce and instead can handle the settlement outside the courtroom thus eliminating the possibility of a negative trial outcome. This can reduce emotional distress, lack of control, wait time and costs.
  • Incentive to collaborate. In the unlikely event the Collaborative process fails, both attorneys must withdraw from the process so that there is no possibility that an attorney is representing you or your spouse for the purpose of a strategic litigated advantage. This also enhances the parties’ incentive to fully participate together towards a common goal.
  • Increased control. You and your attorneys are able to decide the terms of your settlement instead of a judge.
  • Insulating children from conflict. Using Collaborative divorce protects children from the court child custody process. Instead using specially trained professionals can help you and your spouse arrive at custom-designed parenting plans.
  • Privacy. The Collaborative process affords you and your spouse confidentiality during the divorce process

How Is Collaborative Divorce Different from Mediation?

Both mediation and Collaborative are structured processes that help people knowledgeably resolve conflict with the assistance of trained legal professionals.  In mediation, a neutral facilitates the discussions, can provide legal information but does not represent either party. Other professionals, including separately retained attorneys, are included in the process as mutually agreed. In Collaborative each spouse retains their own attorney who drive the negotiations. Both processes are flexible and assume that the parties will share all relevant information as well as cooperate to reach an agreement.

Mediation and Collaborative require an ability for both spouses to engage in negotiations free from coercion or fear of retribution. The attorneys and mediators at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can help you evaluate if the process is right for you.

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for You?

Determining whether collaborative divorce is right for you involves considering various factors related to your personal situation, priorities, and communication dynamics with your spouse. Here are some indicators that collaborative divorce may be a good fit:

  • Willingness to Cooperate: Both you and your spouse are willing to work together cooperatively to resolve issues and reach mutually acceptable agreements. Collaborative divorce requires a commitment to open communication and negotiation.
  • Desire to Minimize Conflict: You prefer to avoid the adversarial nature of traditional litigation and are looking for a more amicable and respectful way to end your marriage. Collaborative divorce emphasizes problem-solving and finding solutions that prioritize the well-being of both parties and any children involved.
  • Focus on Children's Best Interests: You and your spouse are committed to minimizing the impact of the divorce on your children and prioritize their well-being. Collaborative divorce allows parents to work together to create a co-parenting plan that meets the needs of their children.
  • Interest in Control and Privacy: You value having control over the outcome of your divorce and prefer to keep personal matters private. Collaborative divorce allows you to make decisions outside of court, with the guidance of your attorneys and other professionals, without the need for public court proceedings.
  • Complex Financial Situations: If you have complex financial assets or businesses that require specialized expertise to divide equitably, collaborative divorce may be beneficial. The collaborative process allows for the involvement of financial specialists who can help analyze and divide assets fairly.
  • Emotional Support: You and your spouse are open to the emotional support and guidance provided by mental health professionals who are part of the collaborative team. These professionals can help manage emotions, facilitate communication, and foster a constructive atmosphere for negotiation.
  • Cost Considerations: While collaborative divorce involves hiring professionals such as attorneys and neutral specialists, it can be more cost-effective than traditional litigation in cases where both parties are committed to reaching agreements efficiently and avoiding prolonged court battles.

Our team can evaluate your situation and decide whether collaborative divorce is the best route to take to obtain the most favorable outcome in your divorce. Do not hesitate to let us help you inside and outside the courtroom.

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What Sets Us Apart From The Rest?

Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein is here to help you get the results you need with a team you can trust.


    We are one of the only Manhattan divorce law firms offering all three options for divorce: litigation/negotiation, collaborative law, and mediation - providing custom strategies and solutions for our clients.


    All families and marriages are unique - our attorneys take the time to listen to our clients to fully understand the circumstances of their case. Only then do we advise the best legal option for their goals.


    Divorce is a time of transition. We understand the emotional and financial stress that clients experience during the divorce process – from day one our team ensures that we provide our clients with prompt feedback so that they are updated on their case every step of the way.


    Our attorneys provide frequent expert legal commentary for national media outlets and have been quoted in numerous publications including Fox's Business, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News and many more.

Westchester County Collaborative divorce attorneys

Your divorce settlement is an important and legally binding contract. The Collaborative law attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can help you and your spouse work toward a mutually beneficial agreement outside of the courtroom. We represent you with years of experience behind us and advocate for your best interests. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at (914) 350-5329 or contacting us online. We conveniently have offices in White Plains.

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