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Overview


Mission

The Collaborative Family Law Center (the “Center”) helps qualifying couples get divorced without going to court. The Center partners with local courts, law schools, and not-for-profit organizations to offer free divorce mediation services in appropriate cases and to reduce the pain, trauma, and expense of divorce on families.

 

What Services Does the Center Offer?

  • Free Divorce Mediation: The Center primarily offers free divorce mediation services. If Center staff determine you and your spouse are eligible for mediation, you may get up to four, 90-minute sessions with program mediators (or six sessions, if you have children). The mediators are trained in divorce law and in opening up pathways for communication. Some of the mediators may be third-year law students, who will mediate under the direct supervision of a law professor with extensive divorce mediation experience.

    Sessions are held at the Collaborative Family Law Center in lower Manhattan. Both you and your spouse must be willing to participate. If you reach an agreement, that agreement can be put in writing and incorporated into an Order or Judgment of Divorce. You will be responsible for any Court filing fees.
  • Collaborative Law: The Center occasionally connects qualifying couples with volunteer attorneys and other professionals trained in Collaborative Practice. This service is offered less often due to the limited availability of trained volunteers.
  • Mediation Support: The Center offers free mediation services to collaborative divorce professionals who need help to move their collaborative cases forward.
  • Referrals: If your case does not qualify for the Center’s free services, Center staff may be able to offer referrals specific to your case.

What is Mediation?

In mediation, a neutral person called a “mediator” helps people to communicate, and if possible, to reach agreements on issues they need to resolve to get divorced. The mediator helps people focus on the future and make their own decisions. The mediator does not take sides or decide who was right or wrong in the past.

 

What is Collaborative Law?

In Collaborative Law (also known as Collaborative Practice), each spouse is represented by a specially-trained lawyer. Spouses sit together with their lawyers in face-to-face meetings to identify and address the issues they need to resolve to get divorced. Financial planning and mental health professionals may also be involved. If either spouse wants to litigate (go to court), the collaborative process ends. This motivates everyone involved to continue working toward a mutually agreeable resolution.

If you live in New York City and (1) a volunteer attorney is not available; or (2) either you or your spouse already have a lawyer; or (3) you do not qualify for a free attorney, feel free to ask about divorce mediation. Send an email to matrimonialmediation@courts.state.ny.us with your phone number or call 212-428-5592 for more information.

If you live OUTSIDE New York City or if you are not eligible for free services, visit Find a Collaborative Lawyer.

To learn more about the differences between collaborative law and mediation, review our FAQs.

NOTE: Referrals will not be made to either collaborative law or divorce mediation where one spouse cannot locate the other or in cases involving child abuse or domestic violence.

Administration

The Center is located at
80 Centre Street, Room 133,

New York, NY, and serves divorcing couples throughout New York City.

 

How Do I Get Started?

Send an email to matrimonialmediation@courts.state.ny.us with your phone number or call 212-428-5592 for more information. Many couples seek the Center’s services before a divorce case starts. If the divorce case has already started, couples may request a referral to the Collaborative Family Law Center. Individual justices in New York City may also initiate referrals to divorce mediation at the Center.

NOTE: Referrals will not be made to divorce mediation where one spouse cannot locate the other or in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse.