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The Process

For all types of matters, we begin with an initial consultation. There is no charge for this meeting, and it is confidential, whether or not you decide to move forward. This first meeting is typically in person at our office so it is easier to talk and you can better determine if you are comfortable working with us. If you prefer, we can also meet virtually by video call or speak by phone instead. Either way, Ms. Nelson will ask you some personal information during this appointment, so that she can give you a custom overview of things to plan for, discuss some options with you, and better answer your questions. At the end of the meeting, she will also estimate fees, which vary depending on what is involved in your situation.

You usually do not need to prepare for your consultation or bring anything to it, unless you have been served with legal papers. One thing you may want to do in advance of meeting with us is to think about what process you are interested in. There are three common ways people resolve their differences: mediation; negotiated agreements, (including uncontested divorces and collaborative law); and litigation. Our office is experienced in all three, and you can read more about each below. Call or email us if you would like to schedule a meeting by phone or at our office.


The Nelson Law Office P.C. encourages mediation where appropriate, which is a less onerous and less costly alternative to the traditional course of adversarial litigation. The goal of mediation is to reach an agreement that is binding under New York law, without the stress and frustration commonly associated with courtroom proceedings.

In mediation, two people retain our office together and Ms. Nelson is neutral. Both people are present at every meeting with her. Information is voluntarily provided and shared. Unlike a non-attorney mediator, Ms. Nelson will help you to understand the law as it applies to your case, to view personal issues with legal focus, and to suggest alternative solutions and compromises. Based upon these discussions, we will draft an agreement for your review and input. It will be legally binding if both of you choose to accept it.


If you have children, mediation may benefit them the most. Not only will they avoid the stress of warring parents or intense courtroom custody litigation, but your children will be comforted by the knowledge that their parents can work together to resolve their differences peacefully. Some of the other benefits of mediation are that you are in charge of the process. For example, meetings are held when it is convenient for you, as frequently or infrequently as needed, and no court appearances are required even to obtain a judgment. You are also in control of the result. While Ms. Nelson makes suggestions to you, you are the ultimate decision makers. It is also usually a less expensive process because you are not required to retain multiple attorneys. 


The main disadvantage of mediation, however, is that the two parties need to have a good enough relationship to be able to talk through the issues fairly, to share required information, and to reach a compromise. If a compromise cannot be reached, our office is not permitted to proceed to court. Ms. Nelson is not allowed to switch from being neutral to representing either party later. 

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Negotiated Agreements

(including Uncontested Divorces, Collaborative Practice

and Consulting or Advisory Attorneys)

Our philosophy is that if reasonably possible, serious efforts should be made toward achieving an out-of-court but legally binding negotiated settlement. Negotiated agreements differ from mediation in that our office represents one person and his or her interests, rather than serving as a neutral mediator between two people. Ms. Nelson has years of experience negotiating with other attorneys, as well as in completing uncontested divorces, in collaborative practice, and as an advisory consulting attorney.

  • In negotiations with opposing counsel, Ms. Nelson strives to resolve legal family problems to ensure that the rights of our clients are fully protected.

  • In completing uncontested divorces, which is where the two parties agree to the terms of the divorce, we will contact the other party where necessary and prepare required documents for the court to minimize the time and trouble to you. 

  • In collaborative practice, we represent one client’s interest in an alternative dispute resolution process. Collaborative practice begins with a participation agreement. The spouses agree to methods they will use to reach a divorce or separation agreement. They usually agree to a team approach where each spouse has their own lawyer, and there may also be a financial professional, a mental health professional and a child expert. It is also agreed that the spouses will be obligated to seek new attorneys if they wish to go to court. 

  • As an advisory or consulting attorney, our office guides clients seeking an outside attorney for family law advice. This may be as a consultant to one person in a mediation, for a client seeking a second opinion, and in matters or questions of limited scope.

Our office has successfully settled thousands of matrimonial and family matters since the firm was founded in 1975. Most of our cases are resolved by means of a written agreement approved by the client. In the event that negotiations do not lead to an affirmative result, however, we proceed with litigation.

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Litigation & Appeals

While we always explore the feasibility of negotiated settlements, we are skillful advocates for our clients when litigation is required. Litigation is what occurs when disputes proceed through the courts. This includes, for example, written requests and motions to a judge, discovery of financial information through formal questions or subpoenas, and hearings and trials. Our firm has years of litigation experience in matrimonial, family, custody, financial, and related matters. Our firm has represented hundreds of clients before the New York State Matrimonial and Family Court Judges, Magistrates, and Judicial Hearing Officers. Our efforts on behalf of our clients have been cited favorably by the courts. 

We also successfully represent clients requiring our services to prosecute or defend matrimonial appeals. A selection of our published cases can be viewed here.

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