Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
California Chapter Annual Conference
CUSTODY COMPLEXITIES: HARD DECISIONS –
An Interdisciplinary Dialogue
February 10-12, 2017
Carol Adams, JD, CFLS: Carol Adams, Esq. has practiced Law in the Coachella Valley of more than 20 years. She has accepted appointments as Minor’s Counsel in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties for 15 years, mostly on a Pro Bono basis. She sits as Judge Pro Tem in Riverside County, serves on the Riverside County Superior Court’s Mediation Panel and has served on a number of Family Law Committee over the years. With Ms. Herrington, she has taught Minor’s Counsel Classes in Hawaii and New Mexico. She has been involved in arranging teaching Minor’s Counsel Classes in Riverside County for the past 10 years.
Hon. Louise Bayles-Fightmaster, Comm. Ret.: Commissioner Bayles-Fightmaster was appointed to the Sonoma County bench in August 2004 and retired in March 2016. While on the bench she was assigned to the Family Law Division and the AB1058 Child Support Calendar. She also established the Court’s first case management program and heard other general Family Law cases. She was a member of the Elkins Family Law Task Force and the Elkins Family Law Implementation Task Force. She has served two terms on the Family and Juvenile Advisory Committee to the Judicial Council. Prior to her appointment to the bench Ms. Bayles-Fightmaster was the Family Law Facilitator for the Sonoma County Superior Court from 1997 until 2004. She has been active in the statewide education and development of self-help services for self-represented litigants. As the Family Law Facilitator Ms. Bayles-Fightmaster was part of the team that drafted CRC 5.35 - Minimum Standards for the Office of the Family Law Facilitator. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist and trained mediator. She practiced in the areas of Family Law and Estate Planning and Probate for fifteen years before going to work for the Sonoma County Superior Court in 1997
Gitu Bhatia, Psy.D.: Dr. Bhatia has extensive experience working with individuals, couples and families. She provides psychotherapy, parent training, mediation and collaborative law. Besides her private practice, she is an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate School of Psychology at Pepperdine University. She also enjoys teaching and has conducted trainings for therapists, family lawyers, judges, teachers, and parents on several subjects related to human development and cultural competence. Dr. Bhatia is the Past President of Los Angeles Psychological Association 2016 and has been a passionate supporter of raising awareness regarding issues of diversity. Most recently she has co-developed the Divorceworks app, a resource for divorcing families.
Michele Bissada, JD, CFLS: Michèle M. Bissada is a Certified Family Law Specialist and a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). Michèle specializes in high-asset family law cases, including complex financial, custody litigation, consulting mediation, collaborative law, serving as a mediator and a private settlement judge. Michèle serves on the Advisory Council of Overcoming Barriers non-profit organization, which helps to promote children’s healthy relationships with both parents. Michèle acts as San Mateo County Fee Arbitrator and Judge pro tem for the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Michèle is a Board Member of the San Mateo County Legal Aid Society, for whom she also Chairs the Development Committee and Co-Chairs the Annual Luncheon Committee.
Laurel Brauer, JD, CFLS: Laurel Brauer is a prominent divorce lawyer in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist as designated by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization and currently sits on the Board of the Orange County Bar Association, Family Law Section, Los Angeles County Bar Family Section, and the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Certified Specialists. Laurel was the past Chair of the Beverly Hills Bar Association Family Law Section and also was a recent board member of the State Bar of California’s Family Law Executive Committee - serving as the Education Chair for the Annual Meeting two years running. Additionally, Laurel is a board member on the Board of Visitors of the Pepperdine School of Law. And, in past years, Laurel was an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University School of Law - teaching the Advanced Family Law course during varying semesters. Laurel has been recognized in Los Angeles Magazine’s Southern California Super Lawyers since 2005 and Orange County’s version for the past several years.
Vickie Brett, JD: Vickie Brett is a special education law attorney in Orange County, California. She has filed over 100 due process request cases with the Office of Administrative Hearing (OAH) and has expertise in filing limited conservatorship cases in court. Before starting her own law firm, Vickie worked at a boutique law firm in Rancho Cucamonga, CA where she practiced family law and special education law. It was there she saw the overlap between custody issues and its impact on children with special needs.
Cathleen Collinsworth, CDFA®, MAFF™: Cathleen Collinsworth is a CDFA®, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and a MAFF™, Master Analyst in Financial Forensics who has been providing services in the area of family law for almost 20 years. She has extensive training in mediation and the interdisciplinary team model of collaborative practice. In April 2015 Collaborative Practice California (CPCAL), California’s statewide collaborative practice organization, awarded Cathleen the Eureka Award, which recognizes those who have made significant contributions and demonstrated an abiding dedication to establishing and sustaining Collaborative Practice in California.
Frank Davis, Ph.D.: Dr. Davis has been working as a forensic psychologist since 2009, providing services as child custody evaluator, parenting coordinator/ special master, co-parenting therapist and reunification therapist for children and families referred through Family Court, as well as expert witness testimony. His areas of focus include the impact of domestic violence on children in family law cases, issues related to child/parent alienation, and trauma- informed forensic evaluations. Dr. Davis also works as a staff psychologist at Transitioning Families, an experiential, educational, solution-focused approach to healing children and families post-divorce/separation. In June 2016, Dr. Davis joined the AFCC-CA Board of Directors and he has been involved, along with other Board members, in developing a mentoring program for early career custody evaluators in California.
Robin M. Deutsch, Ph.D, ABPP: Dr. Robin Deutsch is the Director of the Center of Excellence for Children, Families and the Law at the William James College in Newton, Massachusetts. Formerly an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, she was the Training Director and Co-director of the Children and the Law program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Currently she practices as a consultant, mediator, parenting coordinator, and therapist. Dr. Deutsch is the past president of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and former Chair of the American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics Committee. She served as a member of the AFCC Child Custody Evaluation and Intimate Partner Violence Task Force Task Force, and has worked with the Department of Justice, Battered Women’s Justice Project, and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She is co-editor with Abigail Judge of Overcoming Parent-child Contact Problems: Family-Based Interventions for Resistance, Rejection and Alienation, published by Oxford University Press.
Adam Dodge, JD: Adam’s work is characterized by his dedication to assisting domestic violence survivors seeking restraining order protection. His Courthouse Advocacy Project, supported through an inaugural grant from the When Georgia Smiled Foundation, now serves nearly 1,900 domestic violence survivors each year in Orange County. He is also dedicated to advancing domestic violence legislation and public policy on state and national levels, serving as a Public Policy Co-Chair for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. Adam is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and law schools, has been a guest on radio and television programs such as The Dr. Phil Show, and is an instructor for the California Domestic Violence 40-hour training certificate program. He has been published in the Orange County Register, OC Lawyer Magazine and recently authored an article on the emerging threat of revenge porn. Adam earned his B.A. from UC Santa Barbara and his J.D. by way of McGeorge School of Law and Hastings College of the Law.
Leslie M. Drozd, Ph.D.: Dr. Leslie Drozd is an expert on family violence, abuse, and alienation - especially in high conflict divorce cases. From 2004-2013, she was the founding editor of the international Journal of Child Custody, is currently an editorial board member of Family Court Review, the co-editor of an Oxford University Press 2012 book, Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for Family Courts and the first editor in the 2016 update. She is the lead author of Parenting Plan and Child Custody Evaluations: Using Decision Trees to Increase Evaluator Competency & Prevent Evaluator Bias (Professional Resources Press 2013). She was a member of the Task Force that created Model Standards for Child Custody Evaluations and a member of the AFCC Child Custody Evaluation and Intimate Partner Violence Task Force. She has done work with the Department of Justice, the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges on domestic violence and has published extensively on issues regarding abuse and alienation. In 2013, she was honored with AFCC’s highest honor for distinguished service and outstanding achievements, the John Van Duzer award.
Bill Eddy, JD, LCSW, CFLS: Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Family Law Specialist. He developed the "High Conflict Personality" theory (HCP Theory) and has become an international expert on managing disputes involving high conflict personalities and personality disorders. He provides training on this subject to lawyers, judges, mediators, managers, human resource professionals, business persons, healthcare administrators, college administrators, homeowners= association managers, ombudspersons, law enforcement, therapists and others. He has been a speaker and trainer in over 25 states, several provinces in Canada, Australia, France and Sweden.
Judith R. Forman, JD, CFLS.: Judith R. Forman, a Specialist in Family Law certified since 1986 by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization , has participated frequently as a speaker at local and national family law panels and symposia, including those sponsored by AFCC and the Los Angeles County Bar and Beverly Hills Bar Family Law Sections. She has published as an author on family law topics from custody of children to custody of copyrights. With law offices located in Los Angeles, California, Ms. Forman is recognized annually in Best Lawyers in America and the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has been named multiple times on the “Top 100" lists of Southern California Super Lawyers and Worth Magazine’s nationwide Top 100 Attorneys. Ms. Forman sits on the Board of Directors of AFCC-California Chapter and is the co-chair of the 2017 AFCC-California Annual Conference. She has chaired the Advisory Council of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law since 1999, serving low-income residents of Los Angeles County.
Bruce Fredenburg, LMFT: Bruce Fredenburg, M.S., LMFT, with Board Certification in Clinical Hypnosis, is a California licensed psychotherapist. He has extensive training in mediation, the interdisciplinary team model of collaborative practice, the management of chronic pain, dealing with trauma, and addictions. He serves as a divorce coach and mediator and has been a presenter at California’s annual statewide conference for collaborative professionals, IACP Annual Forum, and at a previous AFCC-CA Annual Conference, as well as appearing on the Time Warner public television series “How to Get a Divorce”. He has presented numerous training programs for professional associations, corporations, government agencies, and schools.
Albert R. Gibbs, Ph.D.: A member of the Board of Directors of AFCC-CA, Dr. Gibbs is a licensed clinical psychologist who has specialized in Family Law issues in Los Angeles for over thirty years. His private practice includes conducting child custody evaluations, and psycho-diagnostic and forensic assessments for the Family Law Department of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is also founder and director of Co-Parent Solutions which offers marital, family, divorce and co-parent counseling, as well as co-parenting classes, in West Los Angeles, Pasadena and San Marino, California.
Hon. Reva G. Goetz, Ret.: Judge Reva G. Goetz, Ret. works as a mediator and private judge at ARC focusing on Family Law and Probate matters. She was appointed as a Superior Court Judge in February 2010 after first taking the bench as a Commissioner in November 1991. Judge Goetz was assigned to the Family Law Department in Van Nuys from 2014 to 2015 and was assigned to the Family Law Department at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles from 2001 to March 2007. Judge Goetz sat in the Probate Department in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse from March 2007 to August 2014 where her calendar consisted of all matters related to Trusts, Estates, Conservatorships and Guardianships. Prior to her appointment to the bench Judge Goetz was a Deputy District Attorney. Prior to practicing law, and while attending law school, Judge Goetz worked as a Financial Analyst and Accountant. Judge Goetz graduated from Whittier Law School, where she was an Editor on the Law Review, and UCLA with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology.
Lyn R. Greenberg, Ph.D., ABPP: Dr. Lyn Greenberg specializes in work with court-involved children and families. She provides parenting plan coordination, specialized treatment, consultation, training, and expert witness services. Dr. Greenberg has written and presented extensively on issues related to divorce, child abuse, professional ethics, high conflict dynamics, and family forensic psychology. She has served as the reporter and member of the AFCC Task Force on Court-Involved Therapy and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Division 43.
Merlyn Hernandez, JD, CFLS: Merlyn N. Hernandez is the founder of the Law Offices of Merlyn N. Hernandez. For over thirteen years, Ms. Hernandez has practiced immigration and family law. Her immigration practice focuses on family-based immigration, asylum, removal defense, administrative appeals, and appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Ms. Hernandez has represented clients before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth and Fifth Circuits. Her family law practice focuses on cases involving dissolution, parentage, child support, spousal support, property division, pre-marital and post marital agreements. She also a mediator helping parties resolve their cases with alternatives to traditional litigation. Ms. Hernandez is a certified family law specialist. Ms. Hernandez is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Family Law Section Executive Committee, a board member of the California Chapter of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA). She is involved in AILA as an advocacy/congressional liaison for the Southern California Chapter. She is also a member of AILA’s national committees: EOIR Liaison Committee. Ms. Hernandez has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers 2012-2016. She is fluent in Spanish.
Diana Herrington, MFT: Diana Herrington, MFT, is frequently appointed by the Court in Riverside County and San Bernardino County in the roles of Special Master, Evidence Code 730 Custody Evaluator, Co-Parenting Counselor, Court Reporting Family Therapist and as a Therapeutic Supervision Supervisor. In addition to Court appointments, Diana is a trained mediator who works in private mediation to help families mediate parenting plans. Diana has an additional focus of training the legal community in the nuts and bolts of children’s developmental through trainings for Minor’s Counsel.
Hon. Joni Hiramoto: Judge Hiramoto is the first Asian American judge on the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Over her 19 years on the bench she has served in many different assignments, including Felony Trials, Juvenile Court (both Delinquency and Dependency), the Domestic Violence Probation Court, Drug Court and Behavioral Health Court. Judge Hiramoto helped create the Court’s Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic in 2000 and has been the judicial liaison to the clinic as it has spread to other courts in the county. The judge has served as faculty at the B.E. Witkin Judicial College in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2009. She taught “Domestic Violence Awareness” at the Judicial College in June 2008. She has also taught “Domestic Violence Trials” for CJER in January of 2008, and “Criminal Procedure in Domestic Violence Cases,” in March and November of 2007. In December 2007, January 2010 and December 2012, she served as Seminar Faculty for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ week long workshop, “Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases,” in Santa Fe, NM, and San Francisco, CA. Judge Hiramoto has appeared as a guest speaker in Professor Lemon’s “Domestic Violence Practicum,” at the Berkeley Law School since 2009.
Carol R. Hughes, Ph.D., LMFT: Carol Hughes, Ph.D., LMFT, is a California licensed psychotherapist. In her roles as a court-ordered family therapist, co-parenting and child specialist, mediator and collaborative divorce professional, she has served hundreds of parents and children facing separation and divorce. She frequently trains and mentors mediation and collaborative divorce professionals, has appeared on the Time Warner public television series “How to Get a Divorce” and has been a presenter at Collaborative Practice California’s annual conference, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals Education Forum and at an AFCC-CA Annual Conference.
Stan J. Katz, Ph.D.: Dr. Stan Katz is a clinical and forensic psychologist whose past affiliations include the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, the Graduate School of Social Welfare at UCLA, the Maple Counseling Center (which serves as Beverly Hills’ community mental health center) and Children’s Institute International. He is a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court Experts Panel and has been appointed as the Court’s expert over one thousand times in juvenile, criminal and family law proceedings. Dr. Katz is a graduate of Boston University and UCLA. His clinical practice is located in Beverly Hills, California. Author of “False Love and Other Romantic Illusions” (Ticknor and Fields; PocketBooks), “The Success Trap” (Ticknor and Fields; Dell) and “The Codependency Conspiracy” (Warner Books), he is also the proud recipient of an Emmy for his work on the NBC/Universal program “Starting Over.”
Robert L. Kaufman, Ph.D., ABPP: Robert L. Kaufman is a clinical and forensic psychologist in independent practice in Oakland and San Rafael, CA. He is board certified in forensic psychology and has worked in family law for over 20 years. In that arena, he has conducted numerous child custody evaluations, does mediation and co-parent counseling, conducts psychological and neuropsychological assessments and also offers consultation to attorneys. For many years, he has provided training at professional conferences, including AFCC, and has authored several journal articles in family law. He has also served on the Board of the Family and Children’s Law Center in San Rafael, including three years as its president, and is currently on the Board of AFCC California Chapter. He has also been a senior trial consultant with the firm of Bonora Rountree, Trial Consultants in San Francisco.
Mike J. Kretzmer, JD, CFLS: Mike Kretzmer is a lawyer in Los Angeles, California. He is the President of AFCC -California Chapter, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a Family Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization and a former member and officer of the State Bar of California Family Law Executive Committee. His practice focuses on child abuse, intimate partner violence and complex custody litigation. He is a frequent lecturer and writer on matters pertaining to trial practice, presentation of psychological evidence in court and matters related to custody and child abuse issues. He loves dogs because they don't yell at him.
S. Margaret Lee, Ph.D.: S. Margaret Lee, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist whose work focus is providing services to divorcing families and family law attorneys. Dr. Lee performs custody evaluations, consults with attorneys, provides expert witness testimony, is a mediator and provides co-parent counseling to parents.. Dr. Lee has done research regarding psychological testing in child custody evaluations. Dr. Lee is a frequent presenter at national conferences in the area of psychology/family law. Recent peer reviewed articles have involved issues of attachment in child custody work and providing consultation to family law attorneys.
Nancy K.D. Lemon, JD: Nancy K. D. Lemon, Esq., has been a leading authority on domestic violence law for over three decades. A practicing attorney, she has also provided expert testimony in many types of cases. She has worked to craft many pieces of California legislation affecting survivors of domestic violence and their children. Since 1988, Professor Lemon has taught Domestic Violence Law and the Domestic Violence Practicum at UC Berkeley’s School of Law. She authored the first textbook on Domestic Violence Law in 1996, now in its 5th edition. In 2012, she co-founded the Family Violence Appellate Project, where she is the Legal Director.
Brian Don Levy, JD: Brian Don Levy, Esq. is a Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator. His practice emphasizes client-centered process options including mediation, co-mediation, full-team collaborative approaches, and a full spectrum of unbundled legal services. Mr. Levy has served as a member of the Board of Directors of LACFLA - CDSOC including past President - CDPIE - CDEI; as a delegate for CPCAL; and as a member of the L.A.C.F.L.A. & CDEI Training Teams. He has provided collaborative/mediation trainings for CPCAL, IACP, CAMFT and numerous practice groups. In 2013 he received the prestigious Eureka Award from CPCal.
Mary Elizabeth Lund, Ph.D.: Dr. Mary Elizabeth Lund is a custody evaluator and mediator in private practice in Santa Monica, California. She is Past-President of the California Chapter of AFCC and a liaison member of the Family Law Executive Committee of the L.A. County Bar. She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA, and received a U.S. National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral research grant to study effects of divorce on children at the Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, England. Since 2006 Dr. Lund has been a frequent co-trainer for incoming Family Law judicial officers through California Center for Judicial Education (CJER) and participated with Alicia Lieberman, Ph.D., Jeffrey Rowe, M.D., and Hon. Mark Juhas in developing the CJER video series, “Basic Child Development and Effects of Domestic Violence on Children for Juvenile and Family Court Judicial Officers.” She has been a frequent presenter for various organizations including AFCC, the California Administrative Office of the Courts, Continuing Education of the Bar, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and Association of Certified Family Law Specialists. She has co-taught mediation courses including at the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law. Her articles include “Assessing children’s perceptions of family relationships: An interactive instrument for use in custody disputes,” J. Child Custody, 2010, and other original research and clinical articles on effects of divorce on children, parental alienation, divorced fathers, custody evaluations, and mediation. Dr. Lund is a member of Los Angeles Westside Collaborative Divorce Professionals, where she serves as a coach and child expert. Her current interests include early counseling with separating parents to help them talk to children about the changes in their lives and buffer the effects on the children, finding better ways to use custody evaluations to help settle cases, and developing ways to mentor mental health professionals who want to work with divorcing families.
David A. Martindale, Ph.D., ABPP: David A. Martindale, Ph.D., ABPP, board certified in forensic psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, was the Reporter for the AFCC Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation, and served on the AFCC Child Custody Consulting Task Force. His practice is limited to forensic psychological consulting. In that capacity, he has offered his services to psychologists and attorneys in 32 states and 2 Canadian provinces. He has also conducted file reviews for state regulatory boards and has consulted for plaintiffs and defendants in malpractice actions related to custody evaluations.
Ellen Mauldin, MFT: Ellen Mauldin, LMFT provides a diverse range of forensic Family Court services to the greater San Jose, California area. By delivering services to children and adults, including mediation, assessment, and treatment, Ms. Mauldin has an well-developed understanding of all aspects of Family Court cases. Ms. Mauldin is actively involved in the local community of Family Law professionals by participating in conferences for both mental health and legal colleagues.
Shawn McCall, Psy.D.: Dr. Shawn McCall is licensed psychologist practicing in the greater San Francisco Bay area. He has professional experiences in Family, Criminal, and Dependency Courts in multiple states, and his current focus is on Family Court work. Dr. McCall has closely collaborated with accomplished professionals from across the country. As part of a his private practice, Dr. McCall offers low-cost and pro-bono services as means of contributing to the effort to make Family Court forensic psychological services accessible to all.
Mindy Mechanic, Ph.D.: Dr. Mindy Mechanic is a professor in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Fullerton. She is a clinical psychologist whose work focuses on the psychosocial consequences of violence, trauma and victimization with an emphasis on violence against women, e.g., intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Her work has addressed the mental health consequences of trauma, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression as well as other important physical and social health outcomes of victimization. Dr. Mechanic’s current National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded research explores the ways in which women’s ethnocultural context shapes their experience of, and response to intimate partner and sexual violence. In addition to research and teaching, Dr. Mechanic is a forensic psychologist who regularly works as a legal consultant and expert witness in complex legal cases involving interpersonal violence, such as battered women’s criminal defense cases, and prosecutions for sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking, where evidence of counterintuitive victim behavior is helpful to disabuse factfinders (jurors and judges) about myths and misinformation that might otherwise lead them to summarily discount a victim’s report when it fails to comport with their pre-existing beliefs about how “real victims” respond or ought to respond to interpersonal violence (i.e., aggressively and strenuously resist the assault, report it immediately, etc.).
Lisa Helfend Meyer, JD, CFLS: Lisa Helfend Meyer is the senior partner of Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, LLP, a family law practice in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, with an emphasis in complex child custody matters. Ms. Meyer is certified as a Specialist in Family Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Ms. Meyer, a strong advocate for the rights of children as well as for the rights of parents, has been published extensively and lectures frequently before professional and academic audiences, was a consultant to the television show Family Law, and regularly writes a blog for The Huffington Post. Ms. Meyer has been named among the top 50 divorce lawyers in Los Angeles in Los Angeles Magazine and included in Best Lawyer in America annual listings.
Jill Murray, Psy.D., LMFT: Dr. Jill Murray is an internationally renowned expert in the domestic violence field. She has appeared on more than 400 television shows – to the likes of Oprah, Montel, 20/20, Dr. Phil, 24 CNN shows, Anderson Cooper, GMA and Today – 350 radio talk shows, the subject of expert in more than 200 newspaper and magazine articles and the author of three highly acclaimed books. Dr. Murray’s numerous speaking engagements range from private institutions, public foundations, religious organizations, universities, Attorney Generals offices, trainings for hospitals, law enforcement, judges, attorneys, and workshops for more than 100,000 middle and high school students, teaching at the graduate level, and acts as a consultant to Superior Court judges. Dr. Murray is also the co-host of a popular Internet show: The Dr. Jill and Judge Pam Show. Dr. Murray received her BA from UCLA, and her Master of Sciences in Counseling Psychology and Doctor of Psychology from the American Behavioral Studies Institute.
Lorie S. Nachlis, JD, CFLS: Lorie S. Nachlis, Esq. is a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Nachlis & Fink. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and is the immediate Past President of the Northern California Chapter of the AAML. In 2002, she received the Chapter’s “Fellow of the Year Award”. She also served on the Board of Directors of the California Chapter of the Association of Families and Conciliation Courts. Ms. Nachlis has been a speaker for various AAML, State Bar, AFCC, and other organizations dedicated to family law and has published articles on related topics. Ms. Nachlis has been named a “Northern California Super Lawyers” by San Francisco Magazine for every year since 2004.
Nancy W. Olesen, Ph.D.: Nancy W. Olesen, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, who works with children and families. She has conducted hundreds of parenting plan and dependency evaluations over the past 25 years for courts in California and provided expert testimony in divorce and family law cases in California and other states. Dr. Olesen has taught many courses for professionals in the best practices in child custody evaluation in California, throughout the US, in Europe and in Asia. These courses include the mandatory training required in California for court appointed evaluators. In addition, she has conducted courses for judges, attorneys, and mediators on child custody special issues such as child abuse, alienation, domestic violence, and attachment. She consults with attorneys and provides expert testimony on these subjects.
Hon. Amy M. Pellman: Judge Amy M. Pellman was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2008. Judge Pellman has dedicated her legal and judicial career to bettering the lives of children and their families. Prior to her election as Commissioner, she served as the legal director for The Alliance for Children’s Rights, a non-profit organization proving free legal services to children in poverty. She was also a senior and appellate attorney for Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles. Judge Pellman received the Child Advocacy Law Award in 2003 from the American Bar Association and is a regular contributor to a treatise on Juvenile Dependency Law, “California Juvenile Dependency Practice,” published by the CEB (California Educational Bar). Judge Pellman speaks and writes regularly on juvenile and family law issues. Judge Pellman is an adjunct Professor and has taught for over eleven years at Southwestern University Law School. She was awarded the Adjunct Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005. Judge Pellman is currently sitting at Edelman’s Children’s court where she is hears a variety of cases including dependency, ICWA, termination of parental rights for private adoptions, adoption finalizations, surrogacy, and emancipation petitions. Judge Pellman also sits on numerous local, state and national committees related to juvenile and family law issues. She has a B.A. in Political Science from Mount Holyoke College, and a J.D. from the City University of New York Law School.
Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., MSL, ABPP: Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., M.S.L., is the Maconda Brown O’Connor Professor at Smith College School for Social Work. She has been in private practice for over 25 years and now works solely with separating and divorcing parents. She is currently the President of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). She has a national and international reputation for the development, implementation, and evaluation of preventive interventions in courts and family-focused community agencies. Her work on Triage and Screening evaluation for the CT court was awarded the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts’ Stanley Cohen Award for Distinguished Research. In addition to writing for academic and lay audiences, her work is disseminated through speaking engagements and consultation across North America and abroad.
Richard Ross, JD, CFLS: Richard Ross is a Family Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization and practices in Ventura County, California. Mr. Ross draws from over thirty years of legal experience, having been admitted to the California State Bar in 1979. He is a member of the Ventura and Los Angeles County Bar Associations as well as the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists (ACFLS), and has participated in numerous child custody cases in the Ventura County and Los Angeles County Superior Courts.
Stephen B. Ruben, JD, CFLS: Stephen B. Ruben is the Managing Director of The Ruben Law Firm. Steve provides family law representation, mediation, and private judging in San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin Counties. Steve’s practice is devoted to complex family law litigation including high conflict custody disputes, grandparent visitation petitions representing both parents and grandparents international disputes including both domestic and international relocations( move-aways) and prosecution or defense of Hague petitions, adoptions, prosecution and defense of child abuse and domestic violence. Steve is a Certified Family Law Specialist through the California Board of Legal Specialization and is also a member of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists. Steve is a member of the attorney network of the U.S. State Department-Hague Convention Counsel. Steve is a member of the Editorial Board of Lexis/Nexis California Family Law Monthly Journal and writes bi-monthly case analysis and practice pointers for family law practitioners. Steve served as a member of the Family Law Section Executive Committee (FLEXCOM) of the State Bar of California from 2007 to 2009. In 2008, he was appointed to serve on the Elkins Family Law Task Force and completed his service as a member of the Elkins Implementation Task Force in November 2013. Steve is a regularly featured radio guest on “Your Legal Rights” hosted by Chuck Finney, a nationally syndicated program on San Francisco’s Public Radio Station KALW (91.7). Steve is past President of the Lawyers Club of San Francisco and currently a member of its Board of Governors and a member of the Executive Committee of the Lawyers Club of San Francisco’s Inn of Court. Steve has extensive Alternative Dispute Resolution experience as a member of the family law mediator's panel for the Bar Association of San Francisco. Steve also acts as chief arbitrator in hearing attorney/client fee disputes in family law for BASF. Since 1999, Steve served as Judge Pro Tem for the Unified Family Court of San Francisco hearing both the Law and Motion and Domestic Violence calendars and continues to serves as Senior Settlement Master. Steve graduated with honors from Bethany College, West Virginia and Institute of Technology – Chicago Kent College of Law. In November of 2014, Steve was honored by his alma mater of Chicago Kent for his Professional Contribution in family law here in California receiving the distinguished alumni award. Steve is a member of the State Bar of Illinois (1973) United States Supreme Court (1981) and State Bar of California (admitted 1992). He is also a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco and member of the family law section, a BASF approved mediator and arbitrator, the Association of Certified Family Law Specialist in California and The Lawyers Club of San Francisco. Steve was recognized again as a Super Lawyer, Northern California in 2014, 15 and 16 and has been consistently name as one of the Top Lawyers in Family Law in the US Legal Network for the past six years.
Michael A. Saini, MSW, Ph.D.: Michael A. Saini, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, and the Course Director of the 48-hour Foundations to Custody Evaluations at the University of Toronto. For the past 17 years, he has been conducting custody evaluations and assisting children’s counsel for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, Ministry of the Attorney General, in Ontario. He has authored or coauthored 75 publications, including books, book chapters, government reports, systematic reviews and peer-reviewed journal articles. He is an editorial board member for the Family Court Review and on the Board of Directors for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. As well, he is a peer reviewer for 10 peer-reviewed journals and 4 international funding organizations.
Hon. A. Veronica Sauceda, Comm.: Commissioner Sauceda was born in Mexico - her family immigrating to the US when she was 6 months old. She is one of 10 children and, for most of her life, grew up in Lakewood, CA. Commissioner Sauceda attended UCLA undergrad and received a B.A. in Political Science and Chicana/o Studies. She taught 3rd grade for one year and then attended UCLA School of Law. She is a proud (double) Bruin! For more than 13 years, she practiced family law for 2 local non-profits. As a family law litigator, she assisted survivors of domestic violence and handled high conflict custody cases. She was part of a non-profit working group that provided input on the Statewide Language Access Plan in 2014 and part of 2015, which was later implemented statewide by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. As a new Commissioner, Sauceda has been sitting in traffic court in West Covina since early September 2015. About her new endeavor, she wrote: "I am grateful for my new career. I love my courthouse; my colleagues and the justice I get to impart on a daily basis make me feel like the luckiest person in the world!"
Hon. Robert Schnider, Ret.: Robert A. Schnider received his JD degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law in 1970. In practice, he was a Certified Family Law Specialist. He was elected a Commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior court in 1981 and was appointed Judge in 2002, serving in the Family law Department his entire career on the bench. From 2005 through 2007, Judge Schnider was the Supervising Judge of the Department. He retired from the bench at the end of 2008 and now works as a private neutral through ARC. Judge Schnider has lectured and taught extensively to both lawyers and judicial officers and has received several awards including Judicial Officer of the Year Awards in 1997 from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of California, the ACFLS Special Recognition Award in 2008 and the Outstanding Jurist Award in 2000 from the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Glen H. Schwartz, JD, CFLS: Mr. Glen H. Schwartz is the principal of the Beverly Hills law firm Glen H. Schwartz A Law Corporation. He is a Certified Family Law Specialist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and the International Academy of International Lawyers. Mr. Schwartz is a recipient of the “Spencer Brandeis Award” (“In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the legal community and the practice of family law”) and a recipient of the AFCC Joseph Drown Award (“In recognition of the contributions to the betterment of children and families going through the divorce process”). Mr. Schwartz is a former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and has chaired numerous family law symposiums and colloquiums on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He is the author of the annually published Parentage Litigation Reference Guide, as well as authoring numerous articles on parentage and a frequent lecturer on the substantive and practical aspects of parentage litigation. Mr. Schwartz received his Bachelor of Arts degree Cum Laude and Juris Doctor from the University of Southern California.
H. Yvonne Seeley, JD, CFLS: H. Yvonne Seeley, Esq., is a Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. She is the founder and principal of Seeley Family Law Practice, PC in San Mateo, California. Ms. Seeley has been practicing in the areas of child custody and high conflict family law for most of her career. Ms. Seeley was on the board of CORA, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse for several years. She has litigated many domestic violence trials. Ms. Seeley is the co-chair of the Palo Alto Area Bar Association, Family Law Section. She has organized and presented family law seminars for the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association where she is a past president. The Hon. (Retired) Donald King was a speaker at three such family law seminars.
Amanda Selogie, JD: Amanda Selogie is a special education law attorney in Orange County, California. She has filed over 100 due process request cases with the Office of Administrative Hearing and has expertise in drafting special needs trusts for her clients. Before practicing law, Amanda worked “hands on” with special needs children and their families. It was during this time that she saw the need for legal advocacy for children living with special needs as well as for their families.
Leslie Ellen Shear, JD, CFLS: Leslie Ellen Shear has practiced family law since 1976. She is dual-certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization as a family law specialist and an appellate specialist. She is a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Ms. Shear has contributed to the development of family law in California through journal articles, appellate advocacy, legislative advocacy, and presentations to professional groups. She is the author of the Parenting Plan chapter of the CEB California Child Custody Law and Practice treatise. Ms. Shear handles complex child custody, parentage and jurisdiction cases in family law trial courts. She associates in as consulting appellate counsel in all types of trial court family law matters, and handles all family law issues in appellate cases.
Hon. Harvey Silberman: Judge Harvey Silberman is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. He received both a Master degree and his law degree from the University of Southern California where, upon graduation, he was awarded the prestigious Shattuck Award. Judge Silberman was the first staff attorney hired by AIDS Project Los Angeles and then spent five years in private family law practice. He taught family law at USC Law School for four years. He was a staff attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services, leading their domestic violence unit, when he took the bench in 2004, first as a Commissioner and in 2008 as a Judge. He is a board member of the California Chapter of the AFCC and a board member of the San Fernando Valley Legal Foundation. He has heard family law cases for the past ten years and currently sits in Pasadena, CA.
Hon. B. Scott Silverman: Judge B. Scott Silverman is a Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. He has presided in a family law department in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles since April, 2009. From February 2008 until his transfer to downtown, he presided in a family law department in the Van Nuys Courthouse. Judge Silverman was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Schwarzenegger in November, 2008. From November 2007 until his appointment as a Judge, he was a Commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Before taking the bench, Judge Silverman was a partner and associate with the firm Morrison & Foerster for more than 30 years, specializing in labor and employment law. He joined Morrison & Foerster after serving as a law clerk to Associate Justice Raymond L. Sullivan of the California Supreme Court from 1975-1977. Judge Silverman received a bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from Stanford University, and a juris doctor from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. At Hastings, he was made a member of The Order of the Coif honor society and was an editor of the Hastings Law Journal.
Robert A. Simon, Ph.D.: Robert A. Simon, Ph.D. is a forensic psychology consultant based in San Diego, California. Dr. Simon is retained by attorneys throughout the county to consult on custody cases and provide expert witness testimony. Dr. Simon is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and serves on the editorial board of the Family Court Review. He is a member of the Committee on Professional Conduct and Responsibility of the California Bar Association, a member of the Executive Committee of the California Bar Court and a senior member of the Ethics Committee of the California Psychological Association. He is the co-author of the book "Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation and Expert Testimony". Dr. Simon has also published articles in scholarly journals and is a regular contributor to the Section of Family Law Newsletter published by the ABA.
Ann Simun, Psy.D.: Dr. Ann Simun has been working professionally with children with learning and behavioral challenges since 1989. She is a licensed psychologist with a specialization in neuropsychology, an educational psychologist, and a credentialed and experienced school psychologist, making her eligible to conduct IEEs for school district matters. She is listed with the National Register of Healthcare Providers in Psychology, and is a member of American Psychological Association, National Academy of Neuropsychology, International Neuropsychological Society. She is active in presenting at conferences across the U.S. and in training school district personnel, parents, advocates, and nonprofit disability agencies. Dr. Simun conducts neuropsychological and psychoeducational assessments, expert witness and consultation services, and formal observations. She teaches at the graduate level in Los Angeles.
Shawn D. Skillin, JD: Shawn Skillin is a family law attorney, mediator, mediation trainer and speaker. Shawn has worked with Bill Eddy since 2002. As a member of the High Conflict Institute faculty, Shawn has been trained in New Ways for Families, New Ways for Mediation and New Ways for Work and serves as an educational consultant for HCI. Shawn has handled many divorce cases from simple to complex, in court, mediation and Collaborative Divorce. Shawn has also worked as minor’s counsel, representing children in high conflict divorce cases.
Hon. Marjorie Slabach, Comm. Ret.: Marjorie Slabach, a Certified Family Law Specialist, is a retired San Francisco County Superior Court Commissioner in the Unified Family Court. She now works as a private judge focusing on case management and settlement conferences, although she has also heard trials where requested. Prior to her tenure on the bench she worked with teenagers as an English teacher for many years and then chose to become a lawyer to represent parents and children. Comm. Slabach is a frequent lecturer and panel member educating attorneys and judges in the area of family law. She currently heads a task force exploring alternative models for serving families in the California court system. She is the President of the Board of Directors of the non-profit agency Overcoming Barriers, an education and service program that intervenes with high conflict families where a child is at risk of losing a relationship with a parent. She was named the 2010 Judicial Officer of the Year by the Family Law Section of the State Bar of California and the 2008 Judicial Officer of the Year by the Northern California Chapter of the AAML.
William Spiller, Jr., JD: William Spiller was admitted to practice in 1983. Spent fifteen years in Civil Litigation specializing in Product Liability Defense. Admitted to the bar pro hac vice in Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey. Has been practicing Family law and Probate (Guardianships and Conservatorships) since 1991. Previously worked for the Los Angeles County Superior Court as a Juvenile Court Referee (1998-2005) and is qualified as a Parenting Plan Coordinator, Discovery Referee, Arbitrator and Mediator. Arbitrates Fee Disputes for the California State Bar, both as an Individual Arbitrator and Panel Chair. Is and has been Co-Chairperson of the Annual Minor’s Counsel Training Program/Seminar since 2006. Viet Nam Conflict Veteran; awarded the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal and Bronze Star. Volunteer for the Veteran’s Administration, assisting Viet Nam Conflict veterans and donating legal services. Former counsel for Oakland Raiders Veteran Players. Committee Member and national Speaker for the PGA of America and has addressed numerous audiences regarding issues related to children in Family Court and Diversity in Golf. Guest Host of the annual PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship. Speaker and lecturer for various Family Law-related seminars, symposiums and conferences. Son of PGA Golf Pioneer.
Philip M. Stahl, Ph.D., ABPP: Philip Stahl, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist based out of Maricopa County, Arizona, though his work takes him all over the country for over 30 years. Dr. Stahl is a practitioner, teacher, and author, specializing in high conflict families of divorce. He has served on numerous committees and task forces designed to improve the quality of work in his field. In addition, Dr. Stahl teaches judges, attorneys, psychologists and other mental health professionals about issues affecting families and children. Dr. Stahl is on the faculty of National Judicial College and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Most recently, Dr. Stahl, along with several co-faculties, has developed and begun to teach a course titled Modern Divorce Advocacy through the National. As an approved provider of legal specialist education (family law) for the California Bar Association, Dr. Stahl also provides ongoing training and continuing education workshops for psychologists and attorneys.
Angus Strachan, Ph.D.: Angus Strachan, Ph.D., is a psychologist with Lund & Strachan in Santa Monica who conducts custody evaluations, parenting plan coordination, mediation, child and family therapy and co-parent counseling. He, along with Mary Lund, were instrumental in bringing the PPC process to Southern California and he spear-headed the writing of the new stipulation for the LA County Family Bar. He has a background in research on family-focused treatment of major psychiatric disorders, family communication processes, and children’s perceptions of family relationships. Angus Strachan is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA where he consults, trains and supervises child psychiatry fellows and psychology interns conducting family therapy in the Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program and inpatient wards. He has served on the Board of the California Psychological Association and received the Silver Psi award in recognition of his service.
Diane Vargas, JD: Diane Vargas handles all aspects of dissolution actions, cases assigned to the Department of Child Support Services, and domestic violence. She is contracted by the County of Orange to represent indigent clients in paternity actions, contempt actions, as minor’s counsel, and parents whose parental rights are being terminated. She maintains a large caseload representing minor children. Memberships and past memberships include the Orange County Bar Association, Family Law Section of the Orange County Bar Association, Fatherhood 101, and the National Association of Counsel for Children. She received the Superior Court Temporary Judge Program Award in 2008 and 2009 and the F.A.C.E.S Minor’s Counsel of the Year Award in 2015.
Deborah Wald, JD, CFLS: Deborah Wald is founder of The Wald Law Group, based in San Francisco, where her primary practice areas include Parentage Litigation, Custody, Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Law. Ms. Wald also is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco law school, where she teaches "Topics in Contemporary Family Law.” She is an Advisor to the Family Law Executive Committee of the State Bar of California and is a fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys and the Academies of California Adoption and Family Formation Lawyers. In addition, she is Chair of the National Family Law Advisory Council for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Hon. David Weinberg, Comm. Ret.: Commissioner Weinberg is a former Judicial Officer serving on the Orange County Superior Court. For more than 23 years, he has been exclusively handling matters involving children and their families, spending the last 21 years solving Family Law and Business matters. Commissioner David S. Weinberg (Ret.) served as a Deputy District Attorney and private attorney before serving on the Orange County Superior Court bench for 10 years. Since then, he has worked as a Private Judge, Arbitrator, Mediator and Settlement Judge specializing in business and family law matters. He brings nearly 30 years of experience, insight, and creativity to the cases at hand. Commissioner Weinberg has seen thousands of cases, from the modest to the complex for parties seeking resolution of marriage dissolution matters, from the division of assets to multifaceted parenting issues, including settling complex financial arrangements, child custody, child and spousal support matters, premarital agreements, and other family law issues.
Hon. Dale R. Wells: Honorable Dale Wells was appointed as a Superior Court Judge in 2008. He was one of the first family law facilitators in California. He is the Supervising Judge for the Family Law Section in Riverside County, California. In addition to his administrative duties, he handles a full calendar in the Indio Family Law Department. He teaches at Judge’s school, local MCLE classes and yearly Minor’s Counsel Classes. Judge Wells is well known for including input regarding ‘Best Interest of individual children, from relevant sources, as a basis for his custody visitation decisions. He has been a leader in Riverside County in establishing a viable Minor’s Counsel program.
Hon. Michael E. Whitaker: Judge Michael Whitaker is a Judge in the Family Law Department in Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Whitaker was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and has been serving since 2014.Following his graduation from the University of Oregon law school, Judge Whitaker was an associate at Bronson, Bronson and McKinnon and then a Staff Attorney with the Federal Deposition Insurance Corporation. He then served as a Supervising deputy attorney general, California Department of Justice, Office of Attorney General from 2006 through 2014. Judge Whitaker also served as member of Culver City Civil Service Commission from 2006-2014. This is Judge Whitaker’s first assignment in the Family Law department. Judge Whitaker is enthusiastic and thoroughly enjoys his challenging family law assignment and already has keen insights in addressing grandparent visitation issues.
Alan Yellin, Ph.D.: Dr. Alan Yellin is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in West Los Angeles. He has been in practice for over thirty-five years working with children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Yellin did his post-doctoral fellowship at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. He has also worked at San Fernando Valley Child Guidance Agency and is a certified parent trainer. Dr. Yellin has treated a variety of children primarily with anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, attention deficit disorders as well as many children and families dealing with divorce issues. He currently does custody mediation, parenting plan coordination, and co-parenting work, and has received extensive training in child and parent reunification issues. Dr. Yellin authored the book “When Your Child Grows Up Too Quickly,” and has lectured extensively in Southern California on a variety of topics including parenting, self -esteem, sibling rivalry and developing friendship skills.