Some of the services we offer.
In addition to the services below, we can offer bespoke dispute resolution that is tailored to your situation.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process involving a skilled and neutral mediator who can assist the parties and their counsel resolve family law issues outside, or in tandem with, the court process. Mediation is a voluntary private process which is designed to generate creative solutions (including those not available in court) within the backdrop of legal entitlements. It is often far less adversarial than court and often less costly with more enduring settlements.
We can also recommend other professionals to assist in a team mediation where other particular expertise would be cost-efficient and beneficial. For example, parenting professionals, valuators and actuaries might be helpful in the mediation process.
If agreement cannot be reached through mediation, or if parties prefer a more private adjudicative process, parties can enter into arbitration. An arbitration with a neutral third party is much more formal like a court proceeding but is a private and confidential dispute resolution process. In addition, the parties can choose the arbitrator.
At an arbitration, each party will generally present evidence and make their case to an arbitrator as they would at a trial. However, although arbitration can be very similar to court, it need not be. Arbitration offers parties and counsel the opportunity to have input into the design of the process in an effort to cut down on delay and costs. The arbitrator renders a confidential, written, legally binding decision that is enforceable by the court. Arbitration offers a clear and specialized approach to dispute resolution that can be faster and more discreet than trials and litigation.
Case Management, Disclosure Motions, Contents Division
We also offer arbitrators who "case manage" your case. This may include determination of disclosure issues, contents division or other interim and summary matters rather than seeking determination from the court at each step.
Lawyers may recommend these processes to their clients to avoid court delay, permit selection of arbitrator, minimize cost, and maintain privacy.
When assistance is required to resolve co-parenting issues like decision-making or the residential schedule for the children, our lawyers can assist with mediating the terms of a parenting plan for the parties.
Our lawyers can also act as Parenting Coordinators pursuant to a written Parenting Plan to resolve future parenting issues that arise. Parenting coordination can be a less costly and more timely way to address future issues than litigation.
Voice of Child Interviews and Reports
Courts and arbitrators will often want some understanding as to the views and preferences of children, views and preferences are taken into account, but are not determinative. One way of putting the "voice of the child" before the court or an arbitrator
is through a "Voice of The Child" (VOTC) report. A VOTC report is written after the child meets several times with a social worker, psychologist or lawyer. We have lawyers who have the necessary experience to interview children, having regularly acted for
children as agents of the Office of the Children's Lawyer, available for private retainer.
When one parent wants to move or relocate, issues regarding the residency schedule for the children can arise. Some proposed relocations are relatively easy to accommodate in the parenting schedule but other more significant relocations are very difficult to resolve between parents. When litigated, the outcome is quite possibly a win-lose scenario.
A mediation with one of our professionals can assist the parties to explore the best interest of the children in a confidential process and provide some guidance on generating other options to address the proposed relocation.
Unilateral or Bilateral Neutral Evaluation
Neutral Evaluation will involve the review of your case by one of our senior lawyers to offer their thoughts as to the likelihood of success on one or several issues. This can be unilateral, where only one side attends for assessment of their case; or bilateral, where both parties attend for neutral assessment. Our lawyers can provide neutral evaluation for both child-related and financial matters, and can do so at any point in the process – early or late. In either instance, the intent is to try to save time and the high cost of trial.
Neutral evaluation is a bespoke service and can be specifically tailored to the needs of either or both sides of the dispute. It can be provided on an “open” or “closed” (confidential) basis.
Private Exit Pretrial (PEP)
When at the precipice of what will be a lengthy trial, all is not necessarily lost. Senior lawyers at Epstein Cole can offer your client a Private Exit Pretrial – a “last chance” to resolve the case before embarking on what will otherwise be a risky and expensive trial. A lawyer will conduct the PEP as a closed evaluative mediation, offering neutral opinions as to likely outcomes, and helping the parties to reach reasonable alternatives – or to narrow the issues – to hopefully avoid a full trial.
Trial Counsel Mentoring
We have years of experience. We can help you and your client if your matter is going to trial. Our team can provide effective trial counsel mentoring to assist with trial preparation that is critical to a successful family law case. Mock cross-examination preparation by experienced counsel as a part of thorough witness preparation can greatly improve the presentation of your client's case.
Family courts increasingly seek to match disputing parties with appropriate dispute resolution processes. In high-conflict cases, when either urgent parenting or financial matters are involved, high-conflict triage is an alternative way to address matters in a faster and more expeditious way.
Triage can be a mediation or arbitration-type of intervention depending on the parties' desired retainer arrangement. It will include an evaluation by one of our team who will then, if mediating, make recommendations for the family and situation or, if arbitrating, make awards to address the situation.