MaryEllen Linnehan is a matrimonial attorney specializing in Collaborative Law and Divorce Mediation with offices in Mount Kisco, NY and New York City. As a collaborative attorney and divorce mediator, she helps her clients achieve comprehensive out-of-court settlements that meet the needs of the entire family. She has found that most divorcing couples prefer to work in the safe, respectful environment the Collaborative and Mediation processes provide, so that they can focus on the issues that matter most to them and their families. “Most people don’t want to go to court,” says MaryEllen. “They don’t want to spend the time and money, and deal with the hostility, that litigation involves. I offer them an excellent alternative.”
Both the Collaborative Divorce and Mediation processes help couples to:
- Deal with immediate and long-term financial and co-parenting concerns
- Focus on what matters to each spouse
- Keep the children front and center
- Work together to make decisions tailored to the needs of all family members
MaryEllen understands how difficult and painful the decision is to divorce. What she asks her clients is how they want to do it. One way or another, they will end up with a divorce. “Everyone wants to protect their children, ensure financial stability, and preserve assets,” she says. “Many couples want to stay amicable for the sake of the kids. What’s the best way to do all that?” How can couples structure their divorce so that each of them and their family can thrive in the future? “I tell my clients that their choice of process plays a significant role in how they and their kids experience divorce, and how they come out on the other side,” MaryEllen says. “Down the road, when your kids are sitting around in college dorm rooms talking about their lives, what do you want their divorce story to be?”
MaryEllen asks her clients to consider these questions when choosing a divorce process:
- Can I work together with my spouse to find common ground?
- Am I willing to listen and try to understand my spouse, even if I don’t agree?
- Can I be flexible in considering different resolutions to the same issue?
- Do I want my divorce to be conducted respectfully and end in a place of mutual dignity and decency?
If these questions describe the respectful, cooperative environment couples want, then either the Mediation or Collaborative Divorce process is a good choice. While divorce isn’t easy, it’s usually much better for spouses and their families to take the time and energy to reach a balanced settlement rather than fight it out in court.
Couples choosing the Mediation process work together with MaryEllen to unravel the financial and parenting issues and find common ground for moving forward. In the Collaborative Process, MaryEllen represents one spouse and works with a team of professionals: the other spouse’s collaborative attorney, a divorce family specialist to help with co-parenting and communication issues, and a neutral financial specialist. “I discuss with potential clients which process fits them and their family best,” MaryEllen says. “Both processes keep clients out of court and working together with support and guidance, which is the important piece.”
MaryEllen advises her clients that what matters most in arriving at a balanced agreement that works for everyone is their commitment to authentic, meaningful discussions. Even if the going gets tough, the key to putting the pieces together is their commitment to working together. MaryEllen brings compassion and decency to her work with those in conflict. She says, “I understand that my client and their spouse are going through a difficult time. But there is a future life waiting for them, a life with happiness and meaning. My job is to help them find that life in the best way possible.”
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