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                  Family Law Consulting LLC 

Services provided by
Family Law Consulting, PLLC

                  Family Law Consultants LLC
Who we are
About Dr. Garber
Keeping Kids Out Of The Middle
 Keeping families out
                        of court
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Family Law Consulting PLLC
maintains an uncompromising focus on the child

Experts who participate in family law on behalf of litigants commonly add an unnecessary layer of expensive and delay to an already top-heavy process. Family law must never become a contest between "hired guns."

Working for counsel, the court, the guardian, an evaluator or litigant, Family Law Consulting, PLLC, and Dr. Ben Garber will only enter the legal arena on behalf of the child.

Family Law Consulting PLLC
takes a developmentally informed approach
The family law process seldom recognizes that the child is a moving target, following a unique developmental trajectory toward greater and greater autonomy. Family Law Consulting PLLC brings this reality to bear, advising counsel and the courts, critiquing evaluations, investigations and orders to assure that the child's developmental needs are understood and fully anticipated..

Custody and special needs. As a child psychologist, Dr. Garber is particularly well-prepared to educate the court regarding the unique developmental trajectories associated with learning disabilities, cognitive, social, emotional and physical health differences such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and reactive attachment disorder. Dr. Garber holds advanced degrees in both developmental and clinical child psychology Read more here

Dr. Garber's work with families and the family courts has pioneered the concept of the developmentally-attuned parenting plan.

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Family Law Consulting PLLC
recognizes that the child grows within the context of a family system

The questions that are most frequently brought before the family courts -custody, relocation, and post-divorce modifications- are about the "fit" between unique individuals and within a family system. Testing and evaluation of individuals is therefore seldom necessary and never sufficient for these purposes. Read more here Read
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Family Law Consulting PLLC recognizes that each child must be understood as he or she "fits" within a family system which, in turn, must "fit" within a neighborhood and a school and the community at large. Work product review, consultation to counsel and evaluators emphasize the contextual nature of these matters.

KKOOM       Due October, 2021      Developmental
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Family Law Consulting PLLC
will help you prepare for deposition and trial

Family Law Consulting PLLC advises counsel in advance of and during the course of deposition and testimony how best to understand the child-centered issues. This includes interpretation of psychological records and testing, theory and research. Expert consultation will help you to ground  deposition, examination and cross-examination in relevant science, understand whether relevant issues meet Daubert and/or Frye thresholds, and understand whether an evaluator's training, credentials and methods are appropriate to the court's order and the conclusions drawn. This information can be critical to determining whether to settle a case or push it ahead.  

Family Law Consulting PLLC
provides work product review

Work product review is an impartial critique of another professional's evaluation process, interpretation and recommendations in light of the facts of a specific case, the rules of a specific court, the ethics relevant to the professional's affiliations, and best practices in the field.

"... a reviewer may conclude that the original evaluation is relatively well done and
generally helpful, and may encourage the retaining counsel to consider a case settlement. The reviewer may identify areas of potential compromise in a parenting plan that might facilitate settlement. Secondly, the reviewer, like the evaluator, serves an educative function for the retaining attorney and the court in discussing issues about the evaluation and providing a case analysis of the issues, research, etc ... Thirdly, the reviewer provides an educative function for the evaluator if there were deficiencies. In this way, the evaluator should be able to improve her/his product for the court in the future."

Austin, W. G., Kirkpatrick, H. D., & Flens, J. R. (2011).
The emerging forensic role for work product review and case analysis in
child access and parenting plan disputes. Family Court Review, 49(4), p. 743.

Family Law Consulting PLLC engages in work product review in a variety of contexts, including but not limited to:

  • As non-testamentary expert to counsel tasked to advise whether to accept a mental health record or evaluation as adequate and move toward settlement or impugn it and, if so, on what specific grounds;
  • As a testimonial expert to counsel, tasked to critique a mental health record or evaluation and, on that basis, to then educate the court via deposition and testimony as to the documents' strengths and weaknesses and the inferences or conclusions that might validly be drawn therefrom;
  • As expert consultant to a GAL, evaluator or pro se litigant in the interest of assuring that the data collected is sufficiently broad and balanced, that the proposed evaluation design is likely to be sufficient to answer the questions posed by the court, and to advise whether the inferences and recommendations thus drawn are both appropriate to the data and the court's needs;
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  • Austin, W. G., Dale, M. D., Kirkpatrick, H. D., & Flens, J. R. (2011). ). Forensic expert roles and services in child custody litigation: Work product review and case consultation. Journal of Child Custody: Research, Issues, and Practices,8(1).
  • Kirkpatrick, H. D., Austin, W. G., & Flens, J. R. (2011). Psychological and legal considerations in reviewing the work product of a colleague in child custody evaluation. Journal of Child Custody: Research, Issues, and Practices, 8(1).
  • Barth, L. (2011). Consultant conduct in anticipation of a child custody evaluation: Ethical and social dilemmas and the need for neutral parent education. Family Court Review, 49: 155–169.
  • Gould, J. W., Kirkpatrick, H. D., Austin, W. G., & Martindale, D. (2004). A Framework and Protocol for Providing a Forensic Work Product Review: Application to Child Custody Evaluations. Journal of Child Custody: Research, Issues, and Practices, 1(3), 37-64. Read more here

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Family Law Consulting PLLC
provides best practices consultation

The foundation of work product review rests in the ethics of the process. At issue at this most basic level is whether the professional's behavior is congruent with the codified guidelines and standards of his or her guild affiliation and the intervention or evaluation itself.

Resting on that foundation are questions regarding the statistical adequacy of the tools employed, of the inferences drawn and recommendations rendered. Also at this level of analysis are questions as to whether the process of the intervention or evaluation under scrutiny is congruent with relevant jurisdictional requirements and the court's specific orders.

Finally, resting on top of these are questions as to whether the professional engaged in best practices as determined  by the contemporary literature in the field.

For example, a custody evaluator may have been entirely ethical, worked within appropriate guidelines and standards, used reliable and  valid assessment tools, drawn inferences cautiously, entertained a range of alternate hypotheses and offered sound recommendations consistent with the court's order, but still not have complied with best practices in the field.

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  • Belcher-Timme, R. O., Shorey, H. S., Belcher-Timme, Z. and Gibbings, E. N. (2013), Exploring Best Practices in Parenting Coordination: A National Survey of Current Practices and Practitioners. Family Court Review, 51: 651–665.
  • Fidnick, L. S., Koch, K. A., Greenberg, L. R. and Sullivan, M. (2011). Association of Family and Conciliation Courts white paper guidelines for court-involved therapy: A best practice approach for mental health professionals. Family Court Review, 49: 557–563.
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Family Law Consulting PLLC
provides expert non-testamentary consultation

The role of consulting expert potentially has at least two distinct parts: (1) Consultation to the retaining professional (typically counsel) and (2) presentation of the impressions and recommendations thus obtained to the court via deposition and/or testimony. Family Law Consulting PLLC sees these two roles as ethically compatible and is prepared to provided either or both.

When counsel or the nature of the case require that consultation and testimony be bifurcated, Family Law Consulting PLLC will provide one or the other service. In the first role, Family Law Consulting PLLC will work behind the scenes to advise counsel in the development of case strategy, the choice of GALs, evaluators and evaluation methodology, to review work process and product in real time, and to prepare for deposition, examination and cross examination.

As a non-testamentary expert, Dr. Garber is free to meet the litigant and may conduct interviews in support of the role. However, under no condition will Dr. Garber or Family Law Consulting PLLC coach litigants in preparation for evaluation Read more here

In the second role, Dr. Garber will serve as a testamentary expert
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Family Law Consulting PLLC
provides expert testamentary consultation

Family Law Consulting PLLC and Dr. Garber commonly provide both case consultation/work product review and testimony in a single case. This model is expedient, although it creates an artificial boundary that often means that Dr. Garber should not meet the litigant at any time. Read
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  • Lee, S. M., & Nachlis, L. S. (2011). Consulting with attorneys: An alternative hybrid model. Journal of Child Custody: Research, Issues, and Practices, 8(1-2), 84-102.
  • Austin, W. G., Kirkpatrick, H. D. and Flens, J. R. (2011), The emerging forensic role for work product review and case analysis in child access and parenting plan disputes. Family Court Review, 49: 737–749.
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and Child Custody Consultant Task Force (2011), Mental health consultants and child custody evaluations: A Discussion paper. Family Court Review, 49: 723–736.
  • Bow, J. N., Gottlieb, M. C., Gould-Saltman, Hon. D. J. and Hendershot, L. (2011). Partners in the process: How attorneys prepare their clients for custody evaluations and litigation.Family Court Review, 49: 750–759.
  • Mermelstein, H., Rosen, J. A. and Reinach Wolf, C. (2016), Best Interests of the Special Needs Child: Mandating Consideration of the Child's Mental Health. Family Court Review, 54: 68–80.

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Family Law Consulting PLLC
is invested in
helping families find alternatives to litigation

Litigating family matters is extremely stressful, expensive and time consuming. The adversarial nature of the process can drive a wedge between co-parents, polarizing positions. Zealous advocates can expose and humiliate and impugn one party by contrast to the other in the interest of "winning," when, in fact, the child loses no matter what.

Family Law Consulting PLLC will work with counsel, the courts, GALs, evaluators and litigants to shunt conflicted caregivers away from litigation and toward alternative dispute resolution opportunities available by jurisdiction. Focusing all involved on the needs of the child means healing the co-parenting rift, not exacerbating it. Thus, interventions including mediation, mediation-arbitration, collaborative law, early neutral evaluation, and parenting coordination are always preferred.
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  • Cohen, D. (2006). Making alternative dispute resolution (ADR) less alternative: The need for ADR as both a mandatory continuing legal education requirement and a bar exam topic. Family Court Review, 44: 640–657.
  • Barsky, A. (2013), “Med-Arb”: Behind the Closed Doors of a Hybrid Process. Family Court Review, 51: 637–650.
  • Santeramo, J. L. (2004). Early neutral evaluation in divorce cases.Family Court Review, 42: 321–341.
  • Pearson, Y., Bankovics, G., Baumann, M., Darcy, N., DeVries, S., Goetz, J. and Kowalsky, G. (2006). Early neutral evaluations: Applications to custody and parenting time cases program development and implementation in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Family Court Review, 44: 672–682.
  • Boyarin, Y. (2012). Court-connected ADR -A time of crisis, a time of change. Family Court Review, 50: 377–404.
  • Salem, P. (2009). The emergence of triage in family court services: The beginning of the end for mandatory mediation? Family Court Review, 47: 371–388.

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For courts and judicial officers
For lawyers,
                        attorneys and pro se litigants
For Guardians ad litem
For forensic
                        family evaluators
For litigants
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