Neutrals in Mediation, Litigation and Collaborative Law

Karen J. Levitt,  Levitt Law Group, LLC gave a presentation at the USA500 Family Law Roundtable on March 25, 2020, regarding the use of neutrals, not just in Mediation, but in litigation and Collaborative Law.   Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting took place via Zoom, and the presentation was done via Zoom.  Karen focused on setting client expectations regarding neutrals, identifying and selecting neutrals, how to work with neutrals as an attorney or mediator and how to help the clients work with neutrals, and ways in which neutrals can be critical to process and outcome.  There was a rich discussion regarding the use of neutrals amongst the roundtable members, which included attorneys and financial professionals.  There are a wide variety of neutrals that can be used in litigation, Mediation, and Collaborative Law, including financial advisors, pension professionals, business valuators, transactional attorneys, estate planners, special education experts, CPAs to address tax considerations, real estate appraisers, child specialists, and the list goes on.  While not all cases require neutrals, the use of neutrals can actually save clients time and money by using a specific expertise to address a specific legal issue in a divorce or family law matter. The engagement of a neutral is usually a joint engagement, giving both parties participation and control.  Neutrals can help lawyers and mediators work with their clients in coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems.

Divorce and Family Law in Unchartered Waters – the Coronavirus

All of us are impacted by the Coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19. How does it impact your existing case if you are already one of our clients? If you are a prospective new client and want to proceed with your divorce or other family law issue, and get legal advice, or pursue mediation, can you still do that? The need for legal services continues despite Covid-19, and we are available to provide the legal services we have always been providing, including as litigators, settlement counsel, mediators, and Collaborative Law counsel. The Levitt Law Group, remains open! What does that mean?

We are continuing to provide legal services regarding divorce and family-related issues to existing clients, taking on new cases, doing meditations, and working with other professionals that assist our clients. We are doing so remotely, to protect our staff and our clients. We are communicating telephonically, by email, and utilizing technology such as Zoom or Go to Meeting to do our work. We are able to “meet” and communicate with our clients, and do mediation, using all these tools. We are also keeping abreast of developments with the Courts. Continue reading “Divorce and Family Law in Unchartered Waters – the Coronavirus”

IACP Sustaining Links Member

Karen J. Levitt, Levitt Law Group, LLC was recognized by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”), for “10 years of powerful giving to families around the world” as a Sustaining Links Member.  Karen, a member of IACP, and a former member of its Board of Directors, has donated to IACP for 10 years in support of Collaborative Law.  Donations to IACP such as those made by Karen, are used for programming, training, events, supporting emerging leaders through scholarships, and helping to introduce families to Collaborative Law.  Collaborative Law is an out of court dispute resolution process used in divorce and other family law conflicts, which focuses on settlement by intention and legal advocacy rather than an adversarial process.  Both parties have counsel, neutral experts are used where needed, and settlement negotiations take place outside of court and in a confidential setting.  Collaborative Law is a very effective and efficient process that provides families with control over not just process but outcome.  For more information about Collaborative Law, go to and

Training to be a Collaborative Law Attorney

Attorney Karen J. Levitt was a guest lecturer again this past fall at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, MA. Karen spoke to a lively group of law students in their Collaborative Justice course, taught by Assistant Dean and Professor of Law Paula Kaldis. Karen spoke about Collaborative Law, its use in divorce and family law, and its application in business and probate disputes. Karen focused on the Collaborative Law process, training to be a Collaborative Law attorney, and the intentional focus on settlement in Collaborative Law which is different than the traditional ligation model which is focused on “winning”. The law students were very astute in their questions, really wanting to learn about different kind of dispute resolution processes. Law students often have no real life experience in dispute resolution, and as lawyers will ultimately be part of some type of dispute resolution process whether it is in or out of court, Karen enjoys teaching and sharing her knowledge and experience with law students. Karen formerly taught legal research and writing to first year law students at Boston University School of Law.

Innovative and Strategic Use of Neutrals in Mediation

Attorney Karen J. Levitt’s presentation at the 2019 fall joint conference of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, Association of Divorce Financial Planners, and the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation, with Susan M. Miller, CPA/PFS, CFP®, CDFA, Managing Director and Senior Wealth Advisor of The Colony Group, Wellesley, MA, and Karen Ela Kenny MSW, LICSW, of Nashua, NH, on “Innovative and Strategic Use of Neutrals in Mediation” was a success! Not only did 300 people attend the conference, but for the first time ever at this conference some of the presentations were selected to be live streamed and Karen’s workshop was one of them! The live streaming including attendance from coast to coast and around the world, including South Africa, Australia, Israel, Greece, France and Canada, for this first of its kind conference experience for a national mediation organization.

Pictured are Karen, Susan, and the “other” Karen at the conference after their presentation. The use of neutrals in mediation is often underutilized, and Karen wanted to share with participants how to identify what kind of neutral is needed, how to help the parties select the neutral, determining how best to work with the neutral and the clients in mediation, and learning how to be strategic as a mediator when using a neutral. The concepts provided at the presentation are also relevant to Collaborative Law and litigation. When using the term neutrals, it can encompass financial neutrals, vocational experts, business valuators, child specialists, and a myriad of other professionals to assist with specific issues in mediation. It can actually be less cost to clients to use a neutral for a particular purpose as the neutral is usually experienced and knowledgeable on a specific topic, and approaches the conflict from both parties’ points of view. The next APFM conference is this fall in Phoenix, Arizona, for more information go to

Tis The Season for Divorce (and Dispute Resolution)? Why More Marriages end in August

Are there “Seasons” for Divorce?

Vacations, outdoor events, the beginning of a new school year – for many, August is synonymous with family time. But for some, this month marked the season for divorce.

Research from the University of Washington found the number of divorce filings in a number of states consistently peaked in the months of August and March. What’s behind the seasonal up-tick? Several factors could be at play.  “Rather than a time of bonding, the holidays and vacation periods can often lead to disappointment as couples and families discover that increased time together may exacerbate existing problems rather than help mend them,” Anne Tamar-Mattis, attorney and Executive Director of the IACP said.

Tamar-Mattis is the Executive Director of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), a global membership-based organization that aims to keep these divorcing couples and their children out of court by using Collaborative Law. Continue reading “Tis The Season for Divorce (and Dispute Resolution)? Why More Marriages end in August”

Attorney Andrea M. Wells Appointed To Board of Directors of the Western New England University School of Law Alumni Association

Attorney Andrea M. Wells was recently appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Western New England University School of Law Alumni Association.

Her three year tenure will officially commence in October 2019 during the University’s Homecoming Weekend.  Service on the Board of Directors is a volunteer opportunity for Andrea to connect the University and its Law Alumni and to help establish and maintain that important relationship.

Western New England University Law School is currently celebrating its 100th year, and has maintained an important connection between the school, its graduates and the community for the past century.  Law Alumni Association members serve as mentors for current students, panelists for career services events, and guest judges for moot court competitions.  The Law School recently partnered with the Children and Family Law Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services to address what Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants has described as a “constitutional emergency” due to the lack of attorneys available to represent children and parents in child welfare cases.  It is initiatives like these that drew Andrea to Board Membership. Continue reading “Attorney Andrea M. Wells Appointed To Board of Directors of the Western New England University School of Law Alumni Association”

Collaboration: What does it really mean?

You have finally decided to move forward with divorce and to consult with an attorney.  However, you don’t know what to expect.  You have heard horror stories about what happens in Court, and you are concerned about the impact of divorce on you and your family, both emotionally and financially.  You really want to work things out by agreement with your spouse, but don’t know how best to do that.

You have heard about Collaborative Law and Mediation; or maybe you haven’t heard either of these processes, but the lawyer you consult tells you about them.  Or what if your spouse consults with a lawyer first, and tells you that they want to proceed with divorce using the Collaborative Law Process or Mediation? Continue reading “Collaboration: What does it really mean?”

If Only I Had the Key….

Cryptography is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as “The art of writing or solving codes”.  If you find the “key”, you can unlock the “code”.

Divorce or other family breakups often result from parties not being able to communicate, or decrypt the other’s “code”.  Lack of communication and understanding are at the root of much marital discord; no matter how hard they try, whether it is through talking, writing, couples counseling, texting, email, crying, apologizing, doing all things humanly possible to understand one another, sometimes couples just can’t crack that code. Continue reading “If Only I Had the Key….”

Attorney Karen J. Levitt Faculty at September 2019 MCLC Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Law Training

Attorney Karen J. Levitt will be one of the faculty at the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council’s Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Law Training, scheduled for September 19, 2019 and September 20, 2019 at MGM Springfield, MA.

The training will benefit a wide variety of professionals from different disciplines, including family and business law attorneys, financial professionals, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals, coaches and mediators, child development and co-parenting specialists and anyone working with family or business clients in divorce or other conflicts. Continue reading “Attorney Karen J. Levitt Faculty at September 2019 MCLC Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Law Training”