EP: 061


Pioneering Collaborative Divorce in New York with Barry Berkman

After 15 years of trying divorce cases in the courts, Barry Berkman had come to realize that ‘nobody ever won a divorce case.’ Litigation comes with a high price tag in the form of expense and the toxic effect on everyone involved, especially the children. So he started looking for a better way.

At a mediation training in California in the mid-1990’s, Barry was inspired by stories of matrimonial lawyers using the collaborative process who hadn’t been to court in years. He returned to New York and started the state’s first collaborative practice. Today, Barry is a founding partner at Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd, where he continues to specialize in matrimonial law and mediation. Barry teaches mediation at the Center for Mediation in Law, and he has been named among the Best Lawyers in America for eight years running.

On this episode of Divorce Dialogues, Barry joins Katherine to explain his role in bringing collaborative divorce to New York. He shares the advantages of collaborative law over mediation as well as the traditional litigation model. Barry speaks to the necessary shift in thinking for couples pursuing the collaborative process, discussing the role the lawyer plays in modeling a spirit of cooperation. Listen in for Barry’s insight on addressing mistrust through the collaborative divorce process and bringing in non-lawyers for additional support.


  • Barry’s role in bringing collaborative divorce to New York
  • The advantages of collaborative law over mediation
  • How the collaborative process differs from traditional litigation
  • The shift in thinking from win/lose to solving a common problem
  • The exorbitant legal fees associated with a litigious divorce
  • The unpredictable interpretation of equitable distribution
  • How to address mistrust in the collaborative process
    • ‘Let the documents decide’
    • Experts to verify numbers
  • Why litigation provides a false sense of protection
  • How the collaborative process facilitates openness
  • The collaborative lawyer’s role in modeling cooperation
  • The non-lawyers who support the collaborative process
    • Child specialist, parent coordinator
    • Finance professionals


Barry’s Website
Phone 212-867-9123


Stu Webb on Divorce Dialogues
Hon. Sondra Miller on Divorce Dialogues


The Center for Understanding Conflict
Miller Law Group
Katherine on LinkedIn