Stephen A. Kolodny, Esq.: Culture and Collaborative Law

About Stephen A. Kolodney, Esq.
Stephen A. Kolodny is the founding partner of KOLODNY & ANTEAU, in Beverly Hills, California. He has been, listed in Best Lawyers in America, and in 1998 was  named as one of the top 10 divorce lawyers in America in an extensive article on divorce in Town & Country Magazine. Mr. Kolodny is a founding Diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers and a member of its exclusive membership committee. This College is limited to 100 of the best family law trial lawyers in America, selected by their peers based upon trial advocacy skills. Since 1989, Mr. Kolodny has been selected to be one of twelve family lawyers from across the country to serve as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston for the American Bar Association’s Family Law Trial Advocacy Institute.  Mr. Kolodny’s professional affiliations and associations include his involvement in the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1988 and is currently the Immediate Past President of the USA Chapter. He is also member of the Board of Governors of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was the publisher of its newsletter from 1993-1998. Mr. Kolodny has frequently lectured to the IAML on issues of complex trials as well as published articles for them on the subject of international collection of judgments and enforcement of matrimonial judgments.

Abbas – I very much agree that “culture counts” in divorce and the difference in culture results in some cases becoming very difficult cases.

My concern is not about the concept you espouse, because I obviously agree with it, but with your involvement with what I believe is the California model for collaborative divorce. To me, it is unwise for the economically disadvantages spouse to ever participate in a collaborative divorce process where their lawyer, if the case is not settled, must withdraw from future representation. This gives way too much power to the economically advantages spouse and their lawyer.

As I understand the collaborative process in England, withdrawal is not required. Thus, it is traditional representation with a hard focus on mediation and resolution at the earliest stages of the representation, thus differing from “traditional” representation in the timing of the settlement negotiations.

In some ways this is a matter of style, in others related to the size and type of case. A complex, high asset case needs traditional investigative processes to fully understand rights and settlement positions – something that can be done easily by cooperative parties. The problem is when the parties, or one of them, is not so cooperative.

In any event, good luck with your project. I am glad that you are so involved in trying to improve our family law legal system. I hope some of that came from your Houston experience and some of the things we said and did there.


Stephen A. Kolodny
Founding Partner

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