Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Kali Holloway, Deputy Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: September 1, 2009

Hon. Ann Pfau
Chief Administrative Judge

Seal of the Unified Court System

Collaborative Family Law Center to Make Divorce Process Easier New Center to Reduce Stress, Expense and Time Involved in Matrimonial Cases

NEW YORK – With the opening of the Collaborative Family Law Center – the first court-based collaborative law center in the country – getting a divorce in New York will be less adversarial, less expensive and less emotionally taxing. The opening of the groundbreaking new Center, announced today by Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau, will provide divorcing spouses who want to settle their disputes amicably with an alternative to the often lengthy, costly and contentious process of matrimonial litigation. This innovative, progressive approach offers divorcing couples the chance to work with attorneys who are specially trained in collaborative law and mediation. Eligible clients will be provided with pro bono or reduced-fee collaborative law services.

Under collaborative law, each spouse agrees not to litigate and hires a specially-trained attorney. Through a series of face-to-face meetings, the couple and their lawyers work to resolve all divorce-related disputes and mutually decide on issues such as child custody and finances. When necessary, the process may be further informed by mental health professionals, financial consultants and mediators. Conferences continue until all issues in dispute are resolved and a settlement agreement is reached. If negotiations fail and the parties decide to take their case to court, the collaborative process ends and both clients must proceed with new counsel. Communications made during the collaborative process are confidential and cannot be used against either party in subsequent court proceedings. 

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said, “The Collaborative Family Law Center was established to provide parties with a more child-centered, needs-based alternative to matrimonial litigation. By promoting collaborative law and mediation from the outset, before the parties proceed down an adversarial path, the Center aims to mitigate emotional friction – friction often exacerbated by New York State’s lack of no-fault divorce. The collaborative process minimizes the all-too-familiar cost of divorce – wasted time, money and the often hefty emotional price paid by children caught in the middle. It is a more respectful approach that lets couples decide for themselves what is best for their families and their futures.” 

Judge Pfau added, “The decision to end a marriage is one that is often fraught with pain and trauma. In the absence of no-fault divorce, the process can be even more costly and difficult, both emotionally and financially. The Collaborative Family Law Center provides divorcing couples with a voluntary, civil alternative to matrimonial litigation that helps resolve disputes quickly, fairly and privately, without judicial intervention. The emphasis on problem solving and cooperation allows families to settle their cases amicably and move quickly toward a future that all parties can live with. Divorce is never pleasant, but the Collaborative Family Law Center is an important step toward a divorce process that is more responsive, efficient and productive for New York's children and families.”

The Collaborative Family Law Center is located in Room 133 at 80 Centre Street in Manhattan, and is open to clients from all five boroughs. For more information, visit or contact the Center at 212/428-5592 or via email at





Web page updated: July 8, 2009