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Staten Island's Collaborative Law Group Offers Alternative Way to Resolve Legal Wrangling, Matters of Divorce

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., June 24, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For some Staten Islanders facing the likelihood of a bitter legal battle and litigation, a more affordable and somewhat less intimidating alternative is available: Collaborative Law.

Newly introduced to the borough, the process of Collaborative Law, or Collaborative Practice, provides a means for voluntary dispute resolution in which parties settle without resorting to litigation. The method involves a series of joint meetings between the disputing parties, their lawyers – and, sometimes, additional interdisciplinary team members.

Often focusing upon, but not limited to, divorce resolutions, "the process offers a more peaceful and less costly approach to reaching a solution," said Collaborative Law practitioner Anne-Louise DePalo, a Dongan Hills-based divorce/family-law attorney and a founding member of the Staten Island Collaborative Law Group (SICLG). "The first step toward resolution begins with a pledge by all parties, including their lawyers, not to go to court to resolve their differences."

With a membership comprised of specially trained attorneys, mental health professionals and financial specialists, SICLG is Staten Island's first and only organization of professionals educated and trained in the collaborative model of conflict resolution.

"The Collaborative Law process," Ms. DePalo said, "is advantageous because it allows opposing parties to reach an amicable agreement without depleting financial resources, which often are an issue of conflict. And, in addition, it helps the parties to resume a future relationship, without the bitterness and hurt feelings that often accompany court proceedings."

In Collaborative Law, each party is represented by a specially trained lawyer, such as Ms. DePalo or other attorney members of SICLG. Parties sit together with their lawyers in face-to-face meetings to identify and address the issues they need to resolve. The meetings also may include additional Collaborative Law-trained conflict-resolution professionals such as accountants, financial planners and mental-health specialists.

The process often ends with a written agreement that can be incorporated into a legally binding document, which can be used in a Judgment of Divorce.

If either party decides to go to court to litigate, both parties must hire new lawyers and other retained professionals. This motivates everyone involved to continue working toward a mutually agreeable resolution.

COLLABORATIVE PROFESSIONS

Commonly working in concert with other Collaborative Law-educated professionals, collaborative attorneys provide clients with solution-oriented advocacy and advise them of their rights and obligations pertaining to the specific conflicts being addressed. In matters of divorce, for example, clients are apprised of such matters as custody, parenting, child support, maintenance and equitable distribution.

During the process, a financial advisor can help the parties in the development of a fair and viable distribution plan; and mental health professionals, such as a divorce coach or child specialist, can respectively help couples manage the stress and vulnerability of divorce, and assist children by helping them deal with difficult emotions.

"Teamwork is an extremely important aspect of the collaborative process because legal feuds commonly involve both financial and emotional issues whether affecting married couples, various family members, or business associates," Ms. DePalo said. "And, when couples with young children are seeking divorce, the results of conflict resolution will influence the fabric of their future relationship, which will directly impact their children.

SICLG MEMBERS

In addition to Ms. DePalo, SICLG includes:

  • Attorneys Gary S. Tremer; Joan L. Tremer; Kelly L. Wren; William J. Leininger, and Francine Pickett Cohen;
  • Financial professionals Joseph E. Torres, financial advisor; William Blanco, financial advisor, and John C. D'Angelo, certified public accountant, and
  • Mental health professionals Aldo Fossella and Philip Garippa, licensed clinical social workers.

"Collaborative Law isn't new," Ms. DePalo said. "It's been around for more than three decades but has significantly grown in popularity over the past 10 years. The process allows for agreements to be more creative. The parties can freely and openly express their feelings, fears and desires. It isn't like this in court, where it's much more restrictive, and litigants are limited on what they can say."

For additional information about the Staten Island Collaborative Law Group and the Collaborative Law process, or to inquire about becoming a member of the organization, Ms. DePalo's office may be reached at 718-351-3748. Information may also be obtained online at www.sicollaborativelaw.org.

CONTACT: Media Contact: Barton Horowitz Relevant Public Relations, LLC Headquarters: 718 682 1509 Mobile: 917 715 8761 Email: Bhorowitz@RelevantPR.comSource:Staten Island Collaborative Law Group