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Representative Cases and Matters for Collaborative Law

Matrimonial & Family LawChild Custody – Release to Counsel of Forensic Evaluator’s Notes & Raw Data

KC v. JC, 50 Misc. 3d 892, 25 N.Y.S.3d 798 (Sup. Ct., Westchester 2015)

Our Matrimonial & Family Law lawyers represent clients in contested child custody cases. In those cases, the parents’ mental health is relevant, and the court often appoints a mental health professional to perform a forensic evaluation of the parties and the children to assist the court in determining custody. The neutral forensic evaluator’s report is usually released to counsel, but, for years, courts refused to release the forensic evaluator’s underlying notes, test results and raw data unless the requesting party could show “special circumstances,” such as bias on the part of the forensic evaluator. On behalf of the plaintiff wife, Dolores Gebhardt successfully moved for the release of a forensic evaluator’s entire file without proof of “special circumstances,” arguing that the “special circumstances” test should be abandoned because it prevents the court and counsel from obtaining unquestionably relevant and material information. Dolores persuaded the court to adopt a rebuttable presumption standard in favor of disclosure of a neutral forensic evaluator’s entire file in every case. This groundbreaking decision is the first Westchester County case, and the second in New York State, to so hold.

Collaborative Divorce - Matrimonial & Family Law - Substantial Support for Wife

Collaborative Divorce - Substantial Support for Wife

In reaching settlements in a Collaborative Divorce, it is important that both sides agree on sensible financial terms. Here, Dolores Gebhardt's client was a homemaker and mother; and the husband was a business development executive. As part of the settlement, Dolores' client received substantial maintenance for 9.5 years and full ownership of the house, and the husband will continue to pay mortgage and taxes until December, 2020.

Collaborative Divorce - Matrimonial & Family Law - Interdisciplinary Team

Collaborative Divorce – Interdisciplinary Team

An important objective of Collaborative Divorce lawyers is to find solutions that satisfy both sides as they seek a divorce on amicable terms. Here, Dolores Gebhardt's client was a homemaker and mother; the husband was an investment banker. The full-team collaborative method involved retention of a neutral financial professional and a divorce coach. The matter settled in which Dolores' client received $1.2 million in equitable distribution.