Collaborative Practice East Bay is an alliance of individual, unaffiliated, collaborative professionals trained and experienced in collaborative negotiation.

Our group consists of family law attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals. All members have completed required trainings in the collaborative process and are members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP).

The following list is alphabetical by profession.

View: All | Attorneys | Mental  Health Professionals | Financial Professionals


Karen Heller Berdy

2540 Camino Diablo, Suite 201, Walnut Creek CA, 94597
4733 Chabot Drive, Suite 203, Pleasanton CA, 94588
Phone: 925-937-0440
Fax: 925-871-4052

General Comments

Karen Heller Berdy practices family law as a sole practitioner with offices in Walnut Creek, California and Pleasanton, California. Her practice currently focuses on representing family law clients in mediation, collaborative law and other settlement oriented dispute resolution processes. Karen has been practicing law since 1980 and has handled primarily family law matters since 1994. Prior to 1994, Karen was a real estate and corporate transactional attorney, first with Morrison and Foerster in their San Francisco office and then with Feldman, Waldman and Kline in their San Francisco office. Karen received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA in 1976, and received her JD and MBA degrees from Columbia University in New York, NY in 1980. Karen is a founding member of the Collaborative Law Association of Contra Costa (currently serving as the chairperson) and the Collaborative Practice Group of Contra Costa (currently serving on the steering committee). She is also a member of the Alliance of Collaborative Professionals of the East Bay, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, the Northern California Public Education Committee (Collaborative Practice), the Eastern Alameda County Bar Association (currently serving as a board member) and the Contra Costa County Family Law Section.

Thomas G. Borst
                                                                                                  TOM BORST

Firm: Law Offices of Thomas G. Borst, Inc.
Address: 18 Crow Canyon Ct, Suite 300
San Ramon CA, 94583
Phone: 925-718-8201
Fax: 925-718-8909

General Comments

I have been practicing law since 1989, virtually all of which has been devoted to family law, first as a litigator, then mediation, and beginning in 2004, collaboration. My current practice is comprised of all three models. I believe it is important for every client to understand each of the three available paths to resolving their divorce, and then pick the model that best suits their particular situation. My preference is to resolve issues outside of court. When clients and their attorneys make a commitment to do that, which is the hallmark of a collaborative divorce case, the clients are best able to maintain control over their lives and the outcome of the issues in their divorce. While collaborative divorce can be exceedingly challenging, I have found it to be the most rewarding work I have done as a family law attorney. I grew up in the East Bay and received my undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and law degree from Golden Gate University. I currently live in Oakland with my wife and daughter. Len Weiler and I have been law partners since 1999. Our office has been in San Ramon since 1990. I have been an active member (treasurer and steering committee currently) of our local collaborative practice group (now Collaborative Practice East Bay) and a member of The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals since 2004. I have been a member of our three local bar associations, Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and Eastern Alameda County, for the last 19 years. I have served on the Board of The Eastern Alameda County Bar Association since 1994 and am a Past President (1999). I also joined the Board at my daughter’s school in May 2007 and have very much enjoyed the challenges that presents.

Emily M. De Falla

Firm: DeFalla Law and Mediation
Address: 185 Front Street
Suite 203
Danville CA, 94526
Phone: 925-309-4550
Fax: 415-480-1699

General Comments

Compassion, communication, and authenticity are as important to my work as are my legal  skills. I never forget that my work is in service to my clients and I strive to bring respect and empathy to all my interactions.

I believe that families don’t belong in court. That’s why I devote my practice to helping couples resolve disputes peacefully, with respect and dignity.

During my decades in court handling contested custody, support and property division cases, I saw first-hand how divorce litigation can take a great toll on a family. Fear and anger make it hard for normally reasonable people to compromise. The children are under great stress. Even when one side “wins,” both sides come away emotionally damaged.

My search for alternatives to litigation led me to Mediation and Collaborative Practice. I am grateful to have these real tools to help families reduce the tension and conflict of a divorce.

What Clients Say: “I would highly recommend Emily De Falla for family law matters and collaborative practice divorce. Not only is she strong and outspoken when necessary, but she is also remarkably insightful and perceptive – two qualities which are particularly important during a collaborative practice divorce. Her communication was clear, calm and kind as she guided me through the complexities of the divorce process. You will be well-represented with Emily De Falla as your lawyer.” B.D

Locations: Serving Contra Costa, Alameda, Napa and Solano counties with offices in Walnut Creek and Danville, CA.

Mediation (Family Law and Trusts & Estates)
Collaborative Divorce 
Consulting Attorney (Family Law)
Prenuptial & Marital Agreements
Wills & Trusts 
Collaborative Dispute Resolution (Trusts & Estates)

Profession Education and Licensing: University of California Hastings College of the Law 1988 (Honors).  Admitted to practice, State Bar of California 1988.

Public Service:
Chair of Board of Directors, Long Term Care Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa & Solano Counties (Board Chair)
Board Member, Collaborative Practice California

Professional Associations:
Collaborative Practice California
Collaborative Practice East Bay
Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley Trusts & Estates Committee (Ass. Member)
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
California Lawyers Association (Trusts & Estates and Family Law Sections)
Alameda County Bar Association (Family Law Section
Contra Costa Bar Association (Trusts & Estates, Family Law Sections)
Academy of Professional Family Mediators
Association for Alternative Dispute Resolution of Northern California
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
California Assn. of Marriage and Family Therapists (Ass. Member)
California Dispute Resolution Council

. . . keeping families out of court

Emily Doskow

Firm: Emily Doskow
Address: 180 Grand Avenue
Suite 1300
Oakland CA, 94612
Phone: 510-698-4902
Fax: 510-318-7701

General Comments

Emily Doskow has been practicing family law in the Bay Area since 1989. She specializes in collaborative and mediated divorce and in family formation matters including adoptions, surrogacy agreements, prenuptial agreements, donor agreements, and parentage. She is the author or co-author of numerous books published by Nolo, including Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce; Nolo’s Essential Guide to Child Custody & Support, and The Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples. Emily is a frequent speaker on LGBTI family issues. She is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, where she currently sits on the National Family Law Advisory Council. Emily has been practicing mindfulness meditation for over 20 years and has taught mindfulness to attorneys at, among others, JFK University Law School, Continuing Education of the Bar, the Alameda County Bar Association, and Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

David Fink

Address: 1425 Leimert Blvd., Suite 402
Oakland, CA 94602
Phone: 510-422-3276

General Comments

My practice is limited to helping families resolve their disputes out of court, using a non-adversarial, humane and holistic problem-solving approach to conflict. This includes serving as a consulting attorney, mediator and as an attorney in the Collaborative Process. I was a founding member of Collaborative Practice San Francisco (2001) and joined Collaborative Practice East Bay in 2005. I have previously served on the board of Collaborative Practice California from its inception in 2006 until 2015 and as Board President in 2012-13. I am Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist (1993). I am a former chair of the family law sections of the San Francisco Bar Association (1995), the State Bar of California (1999-2000) and a Certified Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (2000), serving as Northern California Chapter President in 2008. I have been selected as a Northern California Super Lawyer by Law and Politics magazine every year since 2004.

Donna T. Gibbs

Firm: Donna T. Gibbs
Address: Blum, Gibbs, Davies & Owen LLP 334 19th Street Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 465-3927
Amanda Gordon
Amanda Gordon

Firm: Gordon Family Law
Address: 1919 Addison Street, #201
Berkeley, CA  94704
Phone: 415-326-4148
Fax: 415-329-1596

General Comments

Amanda L. Gordon concentrates her legal practice on all aspects of Divorce and Family law including property division, spousal and child support, parentage and custody matters, drafting pre- and post-marital agreements.

Amanda’s goal in working with divorcing clients is to ensure that they are fully informed of their options, rights, and choices. She believes that clients are better prepared to make decisions when they have all available information. She has enjoyed working in multi disciplinary teams and knows that divorce can be one of the most emotionally and financially stressful experiences for clients. For that reason, she believes finding the right professional for each client is critical.

Amanda is a Bay Area native, growing up in Palo Alto and attending Castilleja High School. She graduated from Wesleyan University and worked in Advertising for several years before she attended Santa Clara University School of Law. She now lives in the East Bay and on the weekends, you can find Amanda hiking with her poorly behaved Labradoodle, Griffin.

Amanda is committed to community impact work and volunteers with Glide Memorial Church, the Alameda County Bar Association, and the Justice Diversity Center.

Tamarah B. Haet

Firm: Tamarah B. Haet
Address: 23 Altarinda Road, Suite 102
Orinda, CA 94563
Phone: 510-908-4733

General Comments

Tamarah Haet is an experienced family law attorney providing family mediation and collaborative practice services for clients in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. She is committed to providing skilled services to married couples, unmarried couples, and domestic partners in all areas of family law, including dissolution and legal separation, child custody and support, spousal support, property division, and pre- and post-marital agreements. Tamarah earned her law degree at the UC Davis School of Law and a Dual B.A. in Social Welfare and Legal Studies at UC Berkeley.

Faith Jansen

Address: 1990 N. California Blvd., Ste. 600
Walnut Creek CA, 94596
Phone: 925-274-0900
Fax: 925-274-0364

General Comments

FAITH JANSEN, a solo practitioner, was admitted to the California State Bar in 1981. She has over thirty years experience as a family law courtroom advocate, over twenty years experience as a family law mediator and consulting attorney to clients mediating with other professionals, and over eight years experience as a collaborative lawyer.  Ms. JANSEN believes that the collaborative practice model offers parties the best of both the mediation and the advocacy worlds, in that the process is 100% committed to a fair out of court settlement, and the clients have the support of legal and psychological counselors both as advisors and spokespersons during negotiation. Ms. JANSEN graduated from Sarah Lawrence College (B.A. in Social Sciences, 1977) and received her J.D. degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1981. In 1991, she was certified by the California State Bar Association as a family law specialist. She is recognized as an Advanced Practitioner Mediator by the Association for Conflict Resolution. She is a past chair of the Mediation Committee of the Contra Costa Bar Association’s Family Law Section and has received an award for recognition for exceptional service from the Contra Costa Bar Association for her work in 2001 in redesigning and promoting the Family Law Alternative Resolution (“FLARe”) panel of the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service. She has taught mediation courses to attorneys since 2002, and also taught workshops to psychotherapists concerning family law litigation and privacy rights. She has published articles and been a guest speaker at numerous local civic organizations on the topic of mediation and alternative dispute resolution processes as an alternative to litigation.

Camille King
Firm: Collaborative Law and Mediation
Address: 1061 Eastshore Highway, Suite 206
Berkeley CA, 94710
Phone: 510-685-7948

General Comments

Camille King is a family law mediator and collaborative attorney, specializing in dissolution of marriage and domestic partnerships, as well as cohabitation agreements and premarital agreements.  Camille is the immediate past Chair of the Steering Committee for Collaborative Practice East Bay. Camille has served as a member of the Board of Directors of The Mediation Society and of Collaborative Practice California, as the Chair of the ADR Executive Committee for Alameda County Bar Association (ACBA), and as a volunteer community mediator for SEEDS Community Resolution Center. Camille received her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law and her B.A. from University of Georgia.

Arlene Kostant
220 Montgomery Street, 15th Floor, San Francisco CA, 94104
East Bay meetings:  3402 Hall Lane,Lafayette, CA  94549
Phone: 415-433-2863
Fax: 415-397-1577

ARLENE_HEAD SHOTGeneral Comments

Arlene Kostant is a State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist assisting clients in resolving family law issues through negotiation, mediation and collaboration. She is co-chair of Collaborative Practice San Francisco, and is an active participant of Collaborative Practice East Bay and Collaborative Practice California. She is a recipient of the Eureka Award recognizing contributions to collaborative practice in the state. In addition to her work with collaborative practice groups, Arlene is a member of the Contra Costa Bar Association’s Family Law Section, as well as its Alternative Dispute Resolution Section. In addition, she is a  member and former chair of the San Francisco Bar Association’s Family Law Section. Arlene has acted as judge pro tem for the San Francisco Family Law court and has an “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell. She was selected by the San Francisco Daily Journal as one of California’s 25 most sought-after family law mediators and is regularly listed as a Northern California “Super Lawyer” by Law and Politics Publishers. Arlene has trained extensively in mediation and collaboration skills, has previously taught mediation at Hastings Law School and currently teaches classes in negotiation at UC Berkeley (Boalt Hall) Law Schools. In addition, she leads negotiation workshops for law firms, collaborative practice groups and private industry. Arlene is committed to helping parties stay out of court and to reaching solutions that truly work for them.

Meredithe Kreis

Firm: Kreis Family Law & Mediation
3569 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Suite 220
Lafayette, CA 94549
555 Montgomery Street, Suite 1200
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone: 925-268-0760

General Comments:

Meredithe Kreis is a State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist and works as a family law mediator, collaborative professional, and consulting attorney throughout the Bay Area with offices in Lafayette and San Francisco. Though she no longer litigates in court, her prior experience doing so makes her all the more committed to helping clients avoid that financially and emotionally expensive path.  Meredithe has been named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for 2015-2019.

Meghan Lang
Meghan Lang

Firm: North Star Mediation
Address: 1061 Eastshore Highway, Suite 201
Albany, CA 94710
Phone: 510-384-3788

General Comments

Meghan Lang works as a collaborative professional, mediator, conflict coach, and consulting attorney in Albany. She received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and her JD from the UCLA Public Interest Law and Policy Program.  She specializes in helping people in emotionally complex relationships navigate challenging conversations, including premarital and cohabitation agreements, the dissolution of marriage and domestic partnerships, and co-parenting agreements. Meghan believes that every conflict is an opportunity to enhance understanding, improve communication, and repair relationships.

Meghan is a member of the State Bar of California, the Bar Association of San Francisco, Alameda County Bar Association, and the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association. She also a Steering Committee member of Collaborative Practice East Bay (CPEB), the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), and the Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern California. Meghan volunteers as a mediator and coach with SEEDS Community Resolution Center in Berkeley, where she also serves on the Board of Directors.

Hayden Lilien**
Address: Bay Area Community Mediation
555 Coventry Road
Kensington, CA 94707
Phone: 352-284-2176


Christina B. Littlefield

Address: 1290 B Street, Suite 118
Hayward CA, 94541
Phone: 510-247-0199
Fax: 510-538-2660

General Comments

Christina B. Littlefield” has practiced family law in the San Francisco Bay Area for over twenty five years. A Certified Specialist in Family Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, she is a founding member of the original Alameda County Collaborative Practice Group, and has served as a board member of a number of family law bench and bar associations, Collaborative Practice organizations,  Mills College Alumnae Association. Her practice emphasizes alternative dispute resolution including Collaborative Practice, mediation, consulting, and cooperative and unbundled or “a la carte” litigation. She has served as a Judge pro tem and Special Master in family law matters for the Superior Court and as an Arbitrator for the Alameda County Bar Association. She was the Director of the Southern Alameda County Domestic Violence Law Project. Chris has degrees from Mills College, the University of Maryland, and the University of California, Davis, where she was a Law Review editor and author. Chris is the mother of a teenager and sings with the Pro Bono Players. She has been repeatedly recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by San Francisco Magazine. Chris was co-chair of the annual Collaborative Practice California Celebration Conference for 2008.

Deborah J. Marx

Address: 1300 Clay Street, Suite 820
Oakland CA, 94612
Phone: 510-763-5611
Fax: 510-763-3430

General Comments

Deborah J. Marx has been practicing family law since 1981 and is happy to be participating in this new model for conflict resolution. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist (State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). She is the divorced parent of two grown children.

Heba Nimr
Address: 510 49th St., Suite 212
Oakland, CA 94609
Phone: 510-654-7171
Fax: 510-764-2255
Katie Padilla
Address: Frudden and Padilla Family Law
1939 Harrison Street, Suite 120
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-479-0055
Fax: 510-201-2266

General Comments

Driven by a passion for social justice, Katie focuses solely on family law. Katie is determined to positively impact the lives of her clients and their families during difficult and often emotional times by providing counsel that’s both empathetic and pragmatic. She ensures that her clients’ rights are protected while maintaining focus on the big picture. Katie has taken extensive Alternative Dispute Resolution courses, including an intensive 40 hour mediation course, and has been trained as a collaborative divorce attorney. She prides herself on utilizing settlement-oriented tools in her everyday practice to ensure the best possible outcome for her clients.

Katie’s past legal experience includes representing both parents and children in the foster care system and clerking for the Hon. Donald J. Sullivan of the San Francisco Superior Court. She has worked at various child advocacy organizations, including an NGO in Bangalore, India. Additionally, through the Alameda County Family Justice Center, Katie ran a free family law clinic and supervised law students as they provided pro bono services for domestic violence survivors.

Katie is currently an adjunct faculty member at San Francisco State University and Golden Gate Law School. Outside of the office, Katie spends her free time engaging in local adventures with her family and experimenting with new recipes.

Deborah Jo Sandler

Firm: Law Offices of Deborah Jo Sandler
Address: 1990 North California, Suite 600
Walnut Creek CA, 94596
Phone: 925-943-7456
Fax: 925-943-5440

General Comments

Deborah Sandler has been practicing family law since 1985. Her practice has included divorce, custody and visitation, Court-appointed representation of minors, property division, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, domestic partnerships, and support. She has served as a Judge Pro Tem in the Family Law Division in Contra Costa County, and as Court-appointed minor’s counsel in numerous cases. She has presented at Court-sponsored minor’s counsel trainings and at the Contra Costa County Family Law Section’s Custody Issues Committee on minor’s counsel issues, as well as mentoring newly trained minor’s counsel attorneys. Deborah was recognized by STAND for Pro Bono representation of a domestic violence victim at trial, and by the Contra Costa County Family Law Division for her work on behalf of minors. She has also provided Pro Bono mediation at Court. After extensive litigation experience, Deborah began to look for different options to help families resolve their disputes with mutual respect, and to better protect children. Her practice expanded to include mediation in 1992, collaborative law in 2009, and integrative mediation in 2016. Deborah finds alternative dispute resolution to be some of the most rewarding and creative work she has ever done in family law, and she is committed to increasing its use to resolve family law disputes. She currently serves on the Steering and Divorce Options Committees of Collaborative Practice East Bay, and the Divorce Options Committee of Collaborative Practice California. She is a regular presenter of the Divorce Options seminars presented statewide by collaborative practice groups, with local presentations taking place in Lafayette and Oakland each month.  Deborah is a member of the State Bar of California, the State Bar’s Family Law Section and Solo Practice Sections, the Contra Costa County Bar Association, the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Family Law, Solo Practice and Senior Lawyers Sections, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and Integrative Mediation Bay Area. She received her Bachelors degree from Pitzer College, and her JD from Golden Gate University.

Marcy Sharafian
Firm: Christy & Keith Family Law Group, P.C.
6201 Antioch, Street, Suite 300
Oakland, CA  94611
Phone: 510-788-4898
Fax: 510-922-8459

General Comments

Marcy relishes her work as a mediator and collaborative professional and is committed to helping clients create lasting agreements without stepping foot in a courthouse. When working as a consulting attorney, she provides legal advice and support to a client who is in mediation with a different mediator. When representing clients in a cooperative negotiation, she works toward settlement with the other party or the other party’s attorney.

Despite the many legal options that allow clients to avoid family law court, Marcy understands that sometimes clients do need to step foot in the courtroom. In such cases, she advocates with integrity and an eye toward minimizing the potential negative effects of the adversarial process on families.

Marcy has a strong background in conflict resolution, having trained for years with the Bay Area Non-Violent Communication Center and the Center for Understanding in Conflict. She draws on her many years of experience and training to determine the approach most appropriate to her clients’ circumstances.

Marcy earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics from UCLA and her JD from the King Hall School of Law at University of California, Davis. She has guest lectured on family law mediation at UC Davis Law School and has enjoyed teaching communication techniques to other attorneys as a presenter for Continuing Education of the Bar.

Charles Spiegel

2110 Mountain Blvd
Oakland, CA 94611
224 Brookwood Rd
Orinda, CA 94563
1102 Sanchez St
SF, CA 94114
Phone: 415-644-4555

General Comments

Charlie Spiegel’s east and west bay practice includes divorce and custody mediation, pre and post marital planning and agreements, adoption, surrogacy and real estate matters. Charlie served as Co-Chair of the National Board of Lambda Legal, and was a founding Executive Director of Our Family Coalition, the bay area’s LGBT family organization. Charlie writes and lectures extensively on the topics of separating with respect and intentionality for both heterosexual and LGBT couples alike. Charlie co-wrote the Collaborative Practice Divorce Options program materials.  Charlie has also served on boards of, Collaborative Practice California and Collaborative Practice-SF. He received a Fammy award from San Francisco’s Jewish Family & Children’s Services in 2009 and in 2017 an Our Family award for his advocacy for families. His 20 years of practice in varied areas of real estate law in the Bay Area is helpful to separating couples and those facing appreciated or ‘underwater’ home loans or foreclosure. He has lived in the Bay Area since soon after graduating New York University School of Law with honors in 1987 and raised his daughter through his own divorce .  In addition to his offices in SF in Noe Valley and on BART above the Powell St. station, Charlie sees clients weekly in Montclair and Orinda (First Republic Bank offices).

Ariel B. Winger

Firm: Mediation and Collaborative Practice of Ariel Winger
Address: 2832 College Ave
Berkeley CA, 94705
Phone: 510-564-0585
Fax: 510-550-2710

General Comments

Ariel Winger has been practicing family law since 1999 and served as a Staff-Attorney for a local non-profit where she litigated domestic violence cases for 5 years. Recognizing the benefits of non-adversarial options for parting couples, Ariel started her private practice in 2007, offering compassionate and cost-effective services as a mediator and collaborative attorney. Ariel believes the emotional impact of divorce and separation can be minimized by the support and partnership of the attorney-client relationship. By understanding her client’s needs and goals, Ariel works to empower her clients in taking an active role in their case and its outcome. Offering non-judgmental services to all couples and families, Ariel welcomes those traditionally under-represented in the private legal sector and offers sliding scale services on a case by case basis. Ariel is a member of the Alameda County Bar Association (Family Law Section); Collaborative Practice East Bay (Modest Means Committee, Public Education Committee), and International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP).

Mental Health Professionals

Melanie Belmont, MFT, Coach & Child Specialist

Address: 6114 La Salle Ave., #306
Oakland CA, 94602
Phone: 510-631-3000

General Comments

We begin marriages and domestic partnerships with the hopes and intentions of having a relationship that will bring friendship, love and satisfaction to our lives and the lives of the children we have or may have together. When we discover that the bonds we’ve formed have, for whatever reason, come apart, we are confronted with emotions ranging from shock, denial and anger to relief, guilt and resolve. Dissolving our union requires we act on many levels including grieving the loss of what we had hoped for and of what we had as a family and, at the same time, putting on our business hats and thinking about our and our family’s financial and emotional well-being in the future. We can feel angry that someone whom we trusted has made a decision that may mean a loss in the time we spend with our kids and a loss in our standard of living. We may be surprised by or feel ashamed of our own feelings and the behaviors that accompany them. There is nothing easy about the process of dissolving a marriage or domestic partnership. Melanie works with her clients to help them cope with what is by its nature a very challenging transition, to discover and become clear about what is most important to them and why and how to articulate this to their spouse or partner in a clear, non-provocative way. She assists her clients to be clear thinkers when they are triggered by emotional reactions, to learn to be prepared for what they might hear during negotiations and anticipate when they might react emotionally to a topic or their partner’s behaviors. Melanie assists her clients to think through what their children’s needs are and how best to support them during this transition and after. Melanie received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley and her Masters of Science in Clinical Child and School Psychology from California State University East Bay. She has been licensed as a Marriage and Family therapist since 1993. She brings years of experience working with families in transition to Collaborative Law and mediation, and is described by clients and collaborative peers alike as being simultaneously empathic, compassionate, clear and direct. Melanie offers services in divorce coaching, custody mediation, co-parent counseling and crisis intervention for couples who are trying to save their marriages or partnerships.

Marc Berke, Ph.D., LMFT, Coach & Child Specialist

Address: 913 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Suite #280
Danville CA, 94526
Phone: 925-838-2558 ext 2
Fax: 925-827-0157

General Comments

I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with nearly 30 years experience. I provide collaborative coaching and mediation services as well as therapy to individuals, couples, families, adolescents and their parents. My aim is to assist clients to find healthy solutions to individual, marital, and family issues. I have a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology from Saybrook Institute (formerly Humanistic Psychology Institute), and post graduate training in child custody evaluation, mediation, and the fundamentals and principles of collaborative divorce. As a divorce coach I find that couples divorcing often believe that intractable problems can only be solved by divorce. Many clients believe that getting a divorce will allow the family to move into a better place. Divorce can be a step toward resolution but not necessarily a resolution. A positive transition through the difficult process of divorce can lay the foundation for better and more satisfying relationships in the future. In my experience as a coach I find that the present predicts the future. Couples often go through the divorce process with the same unresolved issues they have during the marriage and often worse. If their style of communication does not change, these issues will continue not only during the divorce process, but long into the future. Therefore the need to improve the quality of communication between the couple is critical and especially if children are involved. In fact, studies have shown that families where parents are not divorced but live with high conflict have more child adjustment problems than the divorced families with less conflict. Th
us, the same factors that led to the divorce likely have had a negative impact on children by the time the divorce actually occurs. It is for these reasons I believe the value of improving communication in order to craft agreements that take into account the best interests of the whole family. Collaborative divorce aids in restructuring the nuclear family. The aim is to create a family that functions better than the previous family structure. Collaboration is consensus building that is based on a solution that works for everyone, a win/win. The collaborative process holds much promise for a successful outcome to a difficult life transition.

Chandler Hoffman, Psy.D., Coach & Child Specialist

Firm: Amity Consulting
Address: 2832 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
Phone: 510-847-7917

General Comments

Chandler Hoffman, Psy.D. received his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, College Park and holds both a masters and a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. He has been a licensed clinical psychologist since 2000 and is a full member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Alliance for Collaborative Professionals, East Bay. In 2005, Dr. Hoffman created Amity Consulting, a psychological consulting firm that seeks to prevent and lessen the negative effects of divorce and separation on families. He acts as a Divorce Coach or a Child Specialist in the collaborative divorce process. Dr. Hoffman teaches classes on “Understanding Adolescents”, “Divorcing the right way” and leads groups for Kids Turn, an agency seeking to assist children and their parents adjust to divorce and family separation. Dr. Hoffman currently holds two positions within the Superior Court-Alameda County as a mediator in Juvenile and Family Court and as the coordinator of the Mental Health Hearing Program. Dr. Hoffman sits on the Community Outreach Committee for Administrative Offices of the Court (AOC), and has been a faculty member at the AOC’s state wide educational conferences. He has also been a guest lecturer at both Stanford University and San Francisco State University on the topic of Multiparty Mediation in the Family and Juvenile courts.General Comments

Debbie Katz, MFT, Coach & Child Specialist

Address: 2950 Camino Diablo, Suite 120
Walnut Creek CA, 94597
Phone: 925-472-9426
Fax: 925-253-1446
Address: 23 Altarinda Road, Suite 222
Orinda, CA 94563
Stuart Lord, MA, LMFT, Coach

Office: Video-conference via
(Zoom or FaceTime)
Mail: P.O. Box 6439
Albany, CA 94716
Phone: 510-543-8854

General Comments

Stuart Lord has been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist since 1981. For more than twenty years, he was a Mediator, Evaluator, and Child Custody Recommending Counselor with Family Court Services of the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Although his primary focus has been working with adults and children struggling with the pain and turmoil associated with separation and divorce, he taught at Head Start and at a day treatment program for young children with serious emotional, behavioral, and developmental issues, including autism. Additionally, he has worked in residential and out-patient psychiatric treatment facilities with adults, adolescents, and children and has conducted psychotherapeutic and psycho-educational support groups for children and adults. He has been a community mediator and a private family therapy consultant. In his current private practice he offers, in addition to Collaborative Practice Coaching, Individual, Couple, and Family Therapy, Co-Parenting Counseling, Child Custody Mediation, and Consultation for parents and attorneys involved in child custody evaluations, recommending mediations, and child custody litigation. He currently meets with clients only remotely via Zoom or FaceTime.

Lee Marchesani, MA, LMFT, Coach

Address: 3397 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Ste. E
Lafayette, CA 94549
Phone: 925-255-5344

General Comments

Lee Marchesani, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has worked extensively with families and couples helping them separate and divorce with respect and integrity. She specializes in helping couples with issues related to separation, divorce, co-parenting and custody issues. As a divorced parent, she is passionate about helping couples navigate the difficult terrain of divorce, both emotionally and practically, so parents may effectively co-parent together and children can thrive. Lee is also a certified EMDR clinician to help resolve traumatic experiences, anxiety and other mood disorders.

John Osborne, LCSW, Coach & Child Specialist

Address: 1280 Boulevard Way, Suite 212
Walnut Creek CA, 94595
Phone: 925-385-6855

General Comments

I am one of the founding members of our collaborative practice group and served on the original steering committee. I have an extensive background in working with children and families and care deeply about the long-term outcome of divorce. Whether I work with adults as a coach or with children as a child development specialist I am committed to bringing awareness and compassion to this profound life change.

JoAnn Rodrigues, MFT, Coach & Child Specialist

Address: 696 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Suite 257
Danville, CA 94526
Phone: 925-820-4443

General Comments

In private practice for over 25 years, I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in San Ramon. I work with a variety of clients including children, families, and adults. In the Collaborative Divorce process I work with families as a Coach and Child Specialist.

I started my career working with preschool aged children and their families. Working with families, I began to develop a specialty in helping both children and adults with the adjustment to divorce. I have seen the devastation that can result from a divorce. Collaborative Divorce is a unique opportunity that allows families to have the support of a team to help reach agreements that reflect mutual respect, personal integrity, and the needs of all the parties involved.

As a Coach, my focus is on the emotional impact of the divorce on the spouses. Divorce is both a painful and confusing process. Dealing with strong emotions in a healthy way, with the help of coaching, allows the parties to make sound decisions and helps to preserve relationships.

As a Child Specialist, I spend time with the children and the parents to gain a picture of how the children are adjusting to the divorce. With this knowledge, I provide a voice for the children in the process, informing the parents and the team about the children’s needs both in the present and going forward.

Emily Weaver, MFT, Coach

Address: 1425 Leimert Blvd, Suite 301
Oakland CA, 94602
Phone: 510-869-4170

General Comments

Commitment, Respect, Integrity. These words hold important meaning to Emily, and she measures herself against these words in her work with collaborative practice clients. The collaborative divorce process requires a commitment from every member of the team to treat each other, and the process itself, with integrity and respect. Emily believes that this commitment offers an opportunity to move through a divorce without the devastation often associated with the traditional court based model of divorce, and offers the potential for relational growth and healing. Emily assists clients to bring their best selves forward to make agreements that will serve the needs of the entire family. In this time of pain and confusion, she helps clients to manage complex emotions, identify needs and goals, and communicate in a clear and productive manner. She believes that the interdisciplinary team approach to collaborative practice offers clients a support system that optimizes the family’s ability move through this difficult transition and to create a new family system (when a couple has children), to allow for growth and healing in the future. After the divorce, Emily remains available to work with her clients, on an as needed basis, to assist in further post divorce transitions. Emily has worked as collaborative divorce coach and parenting mediator since 2004. Her work as a collaborative divorce coach is informed by her experience of working for sixteen years as a family law paralegal. Her legal experience, combined with her experience and training as a mental health professional, give her a unique perspective in working with collaborative divorce clients, ending a marriage or domestic partnership. Emily received her BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her MA in Clinical Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. She has trained extensively in Powerful Non Defensive Communication and conflict resolution and mediation.  She has taught collaborative divorce skills to the collaborative community in California, Texas, England and Germany. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Oakland, California. Emily is a founding member of Collaborative Practice East Bay, and is a member of Collaborative Practice San Francisco. She is also a member of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals, Collaborative Practice California and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Financial Professionals

Susan Campbell, CFP, CDFA

Firm: Buena Vista Financial Resources
Address: One Sansome Street, Ste 3500

San Francisco, CA 94104

Phone: 415-439-8811
Fax: 866-844-0191

General Comments

Buena Vista Financial Resources provides fee-only financial planning services, specializing in divorce and other life transitions and serves clients throughout the Bay Area. Susan Campbell, Principal of Buena Vista Financial Resources, is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ and has been a Certified Financial Planner® for over 18 years. Prior to forming Buena Vista Financial Resources, Ms. Campbell had extensive experience in the financial services industry heading a Financial Planning department at a local CPAfirm, as well as her years with Merrill Lynch and Charles Schwab & Co. Ms. Campbell works closely with clients and their advisors on a comprehensive analysis to help them understand the financial impact of divorce and help set realistic expectations. Her clients may be in various stages of the divorce process, from just contemplating a divorce and concerned about their future, to clients in the midst of litigation and settlement negotiations. Using detailed spreadsheets and graphs to analyze the short and long-term financial impact of different settlement proposals, a financially equitable divorce settlement that meets the personal needs of the family can be achieved. The divorce settlement analysis services Ms. Campbell provides allow people to move on to their post-divorce life with confidence. Ms. Campbell received both her undergraduate degree and a Masters of Science in Financial Services degree from San Diego State University. She received the CFP® designation from the College for Financial Planning and the CDFA™ designation from the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. She has completed 40 hours of mediation training through Professional Mediation Associates and completed the Interdisciplinary Team Training on Collaborative Divorce in January 2007. Ms.Campbell is a member of the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, the Financial Planning Association and California Divorce Planners Network. She is also the Treasurer of the Collaborative Practice San Francisco group. Ms. Campbell has been published in the San Francisco Business Times and California Physician magazine and her speaking engagements have included UCSF, the Total Woman Expo, and Bank of America. Related to divorce, Ms. Campbell has given presentations to the California Association of Legal Document Assistants, Divorce Support Group of San Francisco, and the California Society of CPAs. She is also a frequent guest of Rob Black on KRON News.

Gavin DiStasi, CDFA**

Address: Topel & DiStasi Wealth Mgmt
2907 Claremont Ave., Suite 111
Berkeley, CA 94705
Phone: 510-898-1270
Fax: 510-898-1604

General Comments

For couples going through a divorce, the process can be extremely difficult, and assessing the various settlement options, without the requisite financial expertise can be daunting. Since many of the decisions made about the division of assets are difficult, if not impossible to change once the divorce is final, it is imperative to be fully informed of the short and long-term consequences of potential settlement alternatives, so that the family has the best chance of protecting its financial stability going forward. At Topel & DiStasi Wealth Management, with our vast experience in personal financial planning, our team can apply the same rigorous approach we use for our comprehensive planning process, to your divorce case, in order to provide you and your family with the confidence to move past this difficult and uncertain time, and get on with your lives. Gavin DiStasi, CES, CDFA®, is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional, A Certified Estate and Trust Specialist, a member of the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, and an associate member of Collaborative Practice East Bay.

David Droppo, CFP, CDFA

Firm: David Droppo, CFP, CDFA
Address: 1655 N. Main Street, Ste. 230
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Phone: 925-476-5073
Fax: 972-421-0711

General Comments

David works closely with families to solve complex financial issues by creating tailored strategies that reflect client’s personal values. He specializes in taking a prudent and thoughtful approach to ensure the wealth and well-being of families are secure. Stewarding some of the most creative, ambitious and successful clients creates complexities requiring sound guidance.
David is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™. Most clients are referred by other professionals during significant life events – divorce, loss of a loved one, or retirement.
David and his wife, Annalisa, live in Walnut Creek with their son, Olin. In his spare time David is an ultra-marathoner, fly fisher, gardener, some-time woodworker, and enjoys flying RC helicopters.

Gary LaMusga, ChFC, CDFA

Firm: The LaMusga Co.
Address: 2815 Mitchell Drive, Building 2, Suite 105
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Phone: 925-287-1567
Fax: 925-287-1987

General Comments

Gary has been in the financial and insurance services business for over 41 years in the Bay Area. He focuses on comprehensive financial planning, investment management services, retirement strategies, tax strategies, insurance, estate and divorce planning. He has dedicated his years in the industry providing sound advice and solutions to individuals and businesses. With his expertise, tools and techniques, his clients feel more confident in reaching their goals for the future.

Gary assists business owners with selecting benefit packages that fit into their budgets and provide the needed coverage to protect themselves, employees and families. He teams with other professionals to sponsor a comprehensive seminar series to educate Business Owners in the 10 important areas of running a successful business. With his extensive experience in the divorce process from his own personal case that resulted in a ruling from the California Supreme Court, Gary helps educate members of the community on the ins and outs of the divorce process through monthly seminars. Gary is also available to assist clients and attorneys through the divorce proceedings. He helps clients prepare and analyze their financial picture to help ensure an equitable financial settlement now and into the future.

Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of CA Davis. He holds the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) through The American College, the Certified Divorce Financial Analysts™ (CDFA®) certification, and is an active member of the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA™) and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). He is the Chairperson of the Collaborative Practice of the East Bay, (CPEB) and serves on the boards of both the Police and Fire Fallen Heroes and National Association of Remodelers, Inc (NARI). In addition, Gary is a Life and Qualifying member of the Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT). On a personal note, Gary’s obtained the rank of Eagle Scout, God and Country and Order of the Arrow and is a member of the National Eagle Scout Association.

Gary holds CA Insurance license, 0541216 and is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative of Securian Financial Services, Inc., Securities Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC., and Registered Investment Advisor. The LaMusga Co. Is independently owned and operated.

Financial Advisors do not provide specific tax/legal advice and this information should not be considered as such.  You should always consult your tax/legal advisor regarding your own specific tax/legal situation. DOFU 1-2019

Natalie A. Leininger, CFP, CDFA

Firm: Leininger Divorce Planning Services
Addresses: Mailing address: P.O. Box 1139, Livermore CA 94550
Meeting locations in Livermore, Pleasanton and Walnut Creek
Phone: 510-728-3578
Fax: 510-240-1168

General Comments

Natalie Leininger, CFP®, CDFA is a Certified Financial Planner® in practice since 1989 and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst since 2000. She is active in Collaborative Practice, working with the Collaborative team since 2000 in the role of a financial neutral. When working as a financial neutral on the collaborative team, Natalie helps to educate the clients about the short-term and obvious, and the long-term and not so obvious financial results of suggested financial settlement options. Natalie is an active member of Collaborative Practice East Bay, Collaborative Practice Group of San Mateo County as well as the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

Beth McClelland, CFP, MBA, CDFA
Beth Blue Portrait

Firm: East Bay Divorce Financial Planning
2832 College Ave.
Berkeley, CA  94705
1990 N California Blvd. #600
Walnut Creek, CA  94596
Phone: 925-876-7668
Fax: 855-726-4504
Web Site

General Comments

East Bay Divorce Financial Planning and Lamorinda Financial Planning, LLC were founded with the goal of assisting clients in moving through life’s transitions in a manner that preserves dignity, peace, and prosperity.    As a Certified Divorce Financial Planner, I can help you navigate your way as you set yourself up for the next chapter of your life. I work with individuals and couples before, during, and after divorce.

Jennifer Napper, CFP, CDFA

Firm: Napper Wealth Planning of Raymond James
Address: 2999 Oak Road, Suite 1030
Walnut Creek CA, 94597
Phone: 925-952-5262

General Comments

Life is always presenting new opportunities and challenges, especially during major transitions such as experiencing a divorce. These are times when it’s crucial to receive the right financial guidance for the situation at hand, and more specifically, for your unique situation. 

As you are going through a divorce, I can guide you through the many financial details, from dividing assets to mitigating taxes. I can calculate scenarios to project the short- and long-term impact of various settlement options so you can understand the financial consequences of your divorce agreement. 

As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), I will work with you and your attorney toward a settlement that fully addresses your long-term needs.

I earned a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree from Golden Gate University. I hold the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® designation through the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts and have completed mediation training through UC Berkeley Extension and collaborative practice training through Collaborative Practice California.

As a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, I am dedicated to helping you work toward your financial goals by guiding you through the financial planning process set forth by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

I am a member of Collaborative Practice East Bay, the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts and the East Bay Estate Planning Council.

Ron Sanchez, CFP, CDFA**

Firm: Viewpoint Financial Network
Address: 1255 Treat Boulevard #300
Walnut Creek CA 94597
Phone: 925-227-8858
Fax: 925-227-8859

General Comments

I believe the divorce process should not be adversarial, financially confusing or unreasonably costly. By providing written analysis, recommended solutions, advice on negotiation, and a shoulder to lean on, I work to turn fear and uncertainty into peace and confidence at an affordable price. I am committed to your success based on your goals and values.

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow Designation
Graduate of the University of California – Davis
Member of Million Dollar Round Table – Past
Past Board Member, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Mt. Diablo
Investment Advisor Representative
Registered to offer services in CA, AZ, CO, NT, NV, NY, OR, NJ, WA
Licensed to sell Life, Disability & Long-Term Care Insurance, CA
CA Insurance License # 0C77985

Lisa A. Schneider, CFP, RFC, CDFA

Firm: Divorce Planning Services
Address: Locations in Lafayette, San Mateo and San Francisco
Phone: 415-287-7807
Fax: 415-287-7829

General Comments

Planning for the future is an essential part of every divorce settlement. The divorce will soon be your past but the decisions made during the process will have a significant impact on the future of you and your family. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® and Certified Financial Planner®, I am able to help create a picture of the potential short and long-term consequences of possible settlements BEFORE you make a commitment that could be difficult or impossible to change. I have extensive experience working on collaborative and mediated cases since 2000. I continue to participate in collaborative groups around the Bay Area and speak about the collaborative process and the role of the financial professional. It has been my experience that financial issues are often cloaked in fear and uncertainty. My personal desire is to take away this fear and replace it with positive and productive action by providing information and perspective that is often hard to see while trying to cope with the difficult and emotional issues in a divorce.

** Indicates Associate Team Member: All members are licensed or qualified in the State of California and are in good standing with their profession. Team members have three or more years of professional experience working with divorcing or separating individuals, have completed at least 15 hours of Collaborative Practice training, and have completed at least 12 hours of Mediation training. Full Team members that are financial professionals have a CDFA and CFP or CPA certification in addition to the other requirements. Associate Team members lack one or more of these requirements, but are actively working toward becoming full Team members.