joseph noto presentation on interdisciplinary team

child support

Joseph C. Noto. a collaborative divorce lawyer in Bergen County, was asked to make a presentation on May 19th on the interdisciplinary team approach in a collaborative divorce case to the “Mid-Jersey Collaborative Law Alliance” and “when do you start the InterdisciplinaryTeam Approach?  Joseph Noto first established what is an interdisciplinary team.  He told them that the team consists of two (2) attorneys, and a neutral: faciliatator/mental health professional, a financial professional and a parent/child specialist when there are children in the family.  All of the members of the interdisciplinary team are collaboratively trained.  Joseph Noto then explained the role of the interdisciplinary team, which is to help the parties arrive at an outcome that they think is in the bests interest of their family.  He then explained that the team should start right at the outset of the collaborative case.  Since the team controls the Process and the clients control the Content and Outcome, all the team members need to know what is going on in the case all the time. He explained that the facilatator/mental health neutral helps the paents work out what they think is the best custody and parenting plan for their children, if there are children in the case, and is in every joint session with the parties, as well as when they meet with the financial person to discuss the financial matters to arrive at a settlement, if they do not work it out in the joint sessions.  The financial professional garners all the financial information of the parties to disseminate to the parties and attorneys in order that the parties can work out alimony and child support, if appropriate, and the division of the equitable assets and liabilities of the parties. The neutral child specialist is brought in and meets with the children BEFORE a parenting plan is worked out with the facilatator/mental health neutral. This child specialist is the voice of the children and generally only one or two sessions are needed with the children and the team and parents are then informed of the childrens’ feelings.  Mr Noto then explained that although at first blush it seems like this is very costly process, since there a lot of  people in the case, actually it saves the clients money since they have a neutral who is using their discipline to help the parties work out their concerns at a lower cost rather than two attorneys who will cost considerably more and are not as qualified in those disciplines.  Generally, the clients save over 35% using the interdisciplinary team approach over the litigation process and it is consideraly faster to get divorced.  Joseph Noto said that this model, in his opinion, is the best model to use since it lets the parties decide what is best for their family and not the courts. There were 25 people present at the presentation, consisting of lawyers, mental health and financial professionals,  all of whom are collaboratively trained.  After numersous questions the collective agreement was that the interdisciplinary team approach from the beginning is the best way to go.  Some members gave examples of how a case failed since they either didn’t use a nuetral or brought them in too late.  Joseph Noto said he felt like “Johnny Appleseed”  spreading the word on the “interdisciplnary team approach from the outset” and thanked the members for asking him to make the presentation and helping him in speading the word.

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