Find a Professional

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.

Attorneys

Addresses:
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
Email: Karen@dissolawyer.com
Karen Heller Berdy
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.

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
Email: tgb@tomborstlaw.com
Website: tomborstlaw.com
Tom Borst
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.

Firm: Ford Family Law
Address: 180 Grand Avenue, Suite 925
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 561-1837
Email: info@fordfamilylaw.com
Website: fordfamilylaw.com
General Comments

Yishai Boyarin graduated from Berkeley Law School in 2004 and joined the Los Angeles office of the international firm Orrick as a litigation associate. After moving to New York in 2007, Mr. Boyarin chose to specialize in family law. He received an LL.M. in Family Law and ADR processes at the Hofstra School of Law, where he participated in the drafting of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. He served as a clinical professor at Hofstra, directed the Mediation Clinic and taught family law-focused ADR courses until his return to California with his family in 2014, when he focused on the practice of family law as an attorney and mediator.

Mr. Boyarin is Senior Counsel at Ford Family Law APC, located in Oakland CA. He views litigation as sometimes necessary but he emphasizes the selection of the appropriate resolution process and resolving conflicts efficiently and creatively before proceeding to Court whenever possible, especially where children are involved. In addition to providing services as a negotiator and advocate, Mr. Boyarin is an experienced mediator.

Firm: DeFalla Law and Mediation
Address: 185 Front Street
Suite 203
Danville CA, 94526
Phone: (925) 309-4550
Fax: (415) 480-1699
Email: Emily@DeFallaLaw.com
Website: defallalaw.com
Emily M. De Falla
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.

Services

  • 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

Firm: Emily Doskow
Address: 180 Grand Avenue
Suite 1300
Oakland CA, 94612
Phone: (510) 698-4902
Fax: (510) 318-7701
Email: Emily@EmilyDoskow.com
Website: emilydoskow.com
Emily Doskow
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.

Address: 1425 Leimert Blvd., Suite 402
Oakland, CA 94602
Phone: (510) 422-3276
Email: david@finkfamilyadr.com
Website: www.finkfamilyadr.com
David Fink
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.

Firm: Donna T. Gibbs
Address: Blum, Gibbs, Davies & Owen LLP 334 19th Street Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 465-3927
Email: donna@bgdfamilylaw.com
Website: bgdfamilylaw.com
Donna T. Gibbs
Firm: Gordon Family Law
Address:
1604 Solano Ave
Albany, CA 94707
Phone: (415) 326-4148
Fax: (415) 329-1596
Email: amanda@gordonfamilylaw.com
Website: gordonfamilylaw.com
Amanda Gordon
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.

Firm: Tamarah B. Haet
Address: 23 Altarinda Road, Suite 102
Orinda, CA 94563
Phone: (510) 908-4733
Email: tamarah@tbhmediation.com
Website: tbhmediation.com
Tamarah B. Haet
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.

Firm: Collaborative Law and Mediation
Address: 1061 Eastshore Highway, Suite 206
Berkeley CA, 94710
Phone: (510) 685-7948
Email: camille@camillekingfamilylaw.com
Website: camillekingfamilylaw.com
Camille King
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.

Addresses: 3620 Mt. Diablo Boulevard
Suite 200
Lafayette, CA 94549
Phone: (415) 433-2863
Fax: (415) 532-8928
Email: akostantlaw@gmail.com
Website: arlenekostantlaw.com
Arlene Kostant
General 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.

Firm: North Star Mediation
Address: 1061 Eastshore Highway, Suite 201
Albany, CA 94710
Phone: (510) 384-3788
Email: meghan@northstarmediation.com
Website: www.northstarmediation.com
Meghan Lang
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.

Address: 1290 B Street, Suite 118
Hayward CA, 94541
Phone: (510) 247-0199
Fax: (510) 538-2660
Email: littlefieldlaw@sbcglobal.net
Website: littlefieldfamilylaw.com
Christina B. Littlefield
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.

Address: 1300 Clay Street, Suite 820
Oakland CA, 94612
Phone: (510) 763-5611
Fax: (510) 763-3430
Email: debmarx@sbcglobal.net
Deborah J. Marx
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.

Firm: Heba Nimr
Address: 510 49th Street, Suite 212
Oakland CA, 94609
Phone: (510) 654-7171
Fax: (510) 764-2255
Website: hebanimr.com
Heba Nimr
General Comments

Lawyer, Mediator, Collaborative Practitioner

Address: Frudden and Padilla Family Law
1939 Harrison Street, Suite 120
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 479-0055
Fax: (510) 201-2266
Email: katie@fruddenpadilla.com
Website: fruddenpadilla.com
Katie Padilla
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.

Firm: Law Offices of Deborah Jo Sandler
Address: 1990 North California, Suite 800
Walnut Creek CA, 94596
Phone: (925) 943-7456
Fax: (925) 943-5440
Email: djsesq@mindspring.com
Website: deborahjosandler.com
Deborah Jo Sandler
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.

Firm: Marcy Sharafian, Collaborative Attorney and Mediator
Addresses:
3030 Ashby Avenue, Suite 117
Berkeley, California 94705
Phone: (925) 408-1736
Fax:
Email: marcy@sharafianmediation.com
Website: www.sharafianmediation.com
Marcy Sharafian
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 clients who are 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.

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 is a member of the State Bar of California, the Contra Costa Bar Association (ADR board member), and Alameda County Bar Association. She is also a Steering Committee member of Collaborative Practice East Bay (CPEB) and a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). She served as the co-chair of the 2021 Collaborative Practice of California Annual Celebration.

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.

Addresses:
2110 Mountain Blvd
Oakland, CA 94611
224 Brookwood Rd
Orinda, CA 94563
1102 Sanchez St
SF, CA 94114
Phone: (415) 644-4555
Email: charlesspiegellaw@gmail.com
Website: charlesspiegellaw.com
Charles Spiegel
General Comments

Charlie Spiegel’s Bay Area based legal practice includes divorce and custody mediation, pre and post nuptial planning and agreements, adoption, surrogacy and real estate matters. Charlie is one of the co-writers of Divorce Options, a free or low cost online California statewide public education program about divorce process choices, and continues to be actively involved with that program. Charlie served as Co-Chair of the National Board of LambdaLegal.org, and was a founding Executive Director of Our Family, the Bay Area’s LGBT family organization. Charlie also served on the Board of Directors for KidsTurn (now a program of Safe and Sound), Collaborative Practice California, and Collaborative Practice SF, and is a member of the National Family Law Institute.

Charlie has had 25 years of wide experience in real estate since graduating New York University School of Law with honors, He received a Fammy award from San Francisco’s Jewish Family & Children’s Services in 2009, and in 2017 the OurFamily.org award for his advocacy for families. He has lived in the SF Bay Area since just before the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, and through his own family’s divorce. He sees clients in his main office in SF’s Noe Valley, Civic Center, Montclair in Oakland, and Orinda; and where appropriate online whenever a California case has participants.

Email is the best initial contact for Charlie.

Firm: Winger Mediation & Family Law
Address: 5335 College Ave., Suite 26A
Oakland, CA 94618
Phone: (510) 564-0585
Fax: (510) 550-2710
Email: ariel@wingermediation.com
Website: wingermediation.com
General Comments

Once the decision has been made to legally end your relationship, the next, most important question is — how?

Ariel Winger has practiced family law exclusively since 1999. After years of litigating domestic-violence cases, Ariel turned to Mediation and Collaborative Divorce as a more humane, holistic, and cost-effective alternative to the traditionally combative, court-based model of divorce. She has been offering non-adversarial, out-of-court divorce options since 2007.

Ariel is passionate about helping parting couples avoid the pain and expense of a court-based divorce and has extensive training and experience as a mediator and collaborative attorney.  In addition to Collaborative Divorce, Ariel provides individual attorney assistance as an Independent Consulting Attorney (for those in mediation), and in negotiating out-of-court settlement agreements with her client’s spouse or their attorney.  Ariel has been a member of Collaborative Practice East Bay since 2007, served on the Steering Committee, and was a founding member of the Modest Means Committee- dedicated to offering Collaborative Divorce to low-income clients.

Having worked with diverse populations and non-traditional families for over 20 years, Ariel has extensive experience assisting LGBTQ families and offers compassionate and non-judgmental services to parting couples of all races, ethnicities, socio-economic status’, and gender identities.

Mental Health Professionals

Address: 6114 La Salle Ave., #306
Oakland CA, 94602
Phone: (510) 631-3000
Email: melanie.belmont@gmail.com
Melanie Belmont
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.

Address: 913 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Suite #280
Danville CA, 94526
Phone: (925) 838-2558 ext 2
Fax: 925-827-0157
Email: dr.berke@sbcglobal.net
Mark Berke
General Comments

I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with nearly 30 years of 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. Thus, 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.

Firm: Amity Consulting
Address: 2832 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
Phone: (510) 847-7917
Email: dr.hoffman@amityconsulting.com
Website: amityconsulting.com
General Comments

Dr. Chandler Hoffman is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in working with families going through divorce and separation. Dr. Hoffman earned his doctorate in Psychology in 1998 at the California School of Professional Psychology and was licensed in California in 2000. He began his career working for the Superior Court of California, Alameda County for 15 years where he provided custody mediation and then supervised Family Court Services mediators in both the Juvenile and Family Court. Dr. Hoffman launched his private practice, which he calls Amity Consulting, with the goal to provide services to individuals, parents and children going through divorce and other Family Law processes. He specializes in non-adversarial and collaborative processes that help clients accommodate to and manage the changes necessary. He also provides Co-parenting counseling, Mediation, Child Custody Consultation, divorce coaching, adult and child therapy, Parent Coordination and couples counseling to help his clients manage and learn new ways to resolve conflicts.

Addresses:
2950 Camino Diablo, Suite 120
Walnut Creek CA, 94597
Phone: (925) 472-9426
Fax: (925) 402-0730
Email: debbiekatzmft@gmail.com
General Comments

I have been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist since 1998. I graduated from John F. Kennedy University in 1996. As well as being a member of the Collaborative Practice of the East Bay, I am also an Honorary Member of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, Family Law Section.

Prior to working as a Collaborative Divorce Coach, I worked as a court appointed Child Custody Evaluator and Non-Confidential Recommending Mediator for Contra Costa County and Alameda County Superior Courts. I also worked as a Family Court Services Mediator for Contra Costa County Superior Court. While I no longer provide these type of services, I am grateful for the experience these roles provided me in understanding and supporting individuals and their families going through divorce.

I currently focus my practice on working in more collaborative divorce processes including, but not limited to, Collaborative Divorce. In Collaborative Divorce, I typically work either as a Divorce Coach or as a Child Specialist. I also provide confidential custody mediation, family therapy, individual therapy for clients going through the divorce process and co-parenting counseling for parents seeking to transition from the couple relationship to the co-parenting relationship post-divorce.

Going through a divorce, even if it is your choice, is likely to be one of the most difficult events you will experience. If you have children, it can be particularly painful as you know that they will also need to make changes in their lives that they did not choose. It is therefore so important that, as you navigate this, your whole family gets appropriate support and guidance in order to move through this in the healthiest manner possible. That is the ultimate goal of Collaborative Divorce. It is not for everyone, but it certainly is important to consider, if you think it may be for you.

Address:
Mail: P.O. Box 6439
Albany, CA 94706
Phone: (510) 543-8854
Email: stuart@stuartlordmft.com
Stuart Lord
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 outpatient 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.

Address: 3397 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Ste. E
Lafayette, CA 94549
Phone: (925) 255-5344
Email: leemarchesani@gmail.com
Website: leemarchesani.com
Lee Marchesani
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.

Address: 1280 Boulevard Way, Suite 212
Walnut Creek CA, 94595
Phone: (925) 385-6855
Email: johnconnellosborne@gmail.com
John Osborne
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.

Address: 1425 Leimert Blvd, Suite 301
Oakland CA, 94602
Phone: (510) 869-4170
Email: emily@eweavermft.com
Emily Weaver
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 to 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 a 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

Address: Topel & DiStasi Wealth Mgmt
2907 Claremont Ave., Suite 111
Berkeley, CA 94705
Phone: (510) 898-1270
Fax: (510) 898-1604
Email: gavin@td-wm.com
Gavin DiStasi
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.

 

Firm: David Droppo, CFP, CDFA
Address: 1655 N. Main Street, Ste. 230
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Phone: (925) 476-5077
Fax: (972) 421-0711
Email: ddroppo@threeoaksag.com
Website: https://threeoaksag.com
David Dropper
General Comments

David works closely with families to solve complex financial issues by creating tailored strategies that reflect the 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.

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
Email: Natalie@Leiningerfinancial.com
Website: llfinancial.com
Natalie A. Leininger
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.

Firm: The LaMusga Co.
Address: 2815 Mitchell Drive, Building 2, Suite 105
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Phone: (925) 287-1567
Fax: (925) 287-1987
Email: gary@lamusgaco.com
Website: lamusgaco.com
Gary LaMusga
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 benefits 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.

Firm: Napper Wealth Planning of Raymond James
Address: 2999 Oak Road, Suite 1030
Walnut Creek CA, 94597
Phone: (925) 952-5262
Email: jennifer.napper@raymondjames.com
Website: jennifernapper.com
Jennifer Napper
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.

Firm: Commonwealth Financial Network
Address: 2950 Buskirk Ave #300
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
Phone: (925) 407 4732
Email: rsanchez@wealthplanningcfn.com
Website: divorceplanningvp.com
Ron Sanchez
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
  • CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER Professional
  • 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
Firm: Divorce Planning Services
Address: Locations in Lafayette, San Mateo, and San Francisco
Phone: (415) 287-7807
Fax: (415) 287-7829
Email: Lisa.8@schneiderfa.com
Website: divorceplanningservices.com
Lisa A. Schneider
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.