Call Family and Divorce Mediator, Henry Koltys, for expert assistance in divorce and family mediation.
Offices in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. Call 415-710-1708.
Also see Child Custody Agreement and Parenting Plan software KidsFirst!

Mediation For Resolution

Divorce Mediation and Family Wealth Transfer Mediation

Empowering and Protecting Through Collaborative Family and Divorce Mediation

Whether together for one year or twenty years, the interconnected web of relationship is difficult to untangle without professional help. Collaborative mediation provides partners with a roadmap to resolve differences and create clear boundaries around family, relationships, finances, community, emotions, health, legal, property, and the psyche.

Child custody responsibilities include both legal and physical custody. Legal custody includes issues involving non-personal aspects of the child, such as a child's finances, education, and religion. Physical custody includes issues involving personal aspects of the child, such as the location of the child's residence, the amount of parent contact, and the daily living schedule.

Collaborative family and divorce mediation empowers partners because they alone determine the processes and methods to achieve resolution. Because the past behaviors of the parties are responsible for their current situation, they are the ones who know the most likely common ground that can lead to resolution.

Collaborative family and divorce mediation protects the parties because the mediator coaches them and collaborates with them. The family and divorce mediator teaches the parties a language of deep dialogue that promotes a safe environment of mutual trust and respect, essential for clear understanding and agreement. In this way the parties feel “seen” and “heard” by the other, perhaps for the first time in their relationship. The knowledge, skills, and abilities learned by the parties during collaborative family and divorce mediation can provide them with a stronger communication tools for future personal and business relationships.

Family and divorce mediation is by far the least damaging alternative to other venues of resolving conflict but especially litigation, where the emotions are inflamed and relationships can be damaged beyond repair. When the parties feel safe they are more motivated to work together and craft an outcome in which everyone has ownership, compared to arbitration or litigation where the parties look to an arbitrator or judge for a decision as to who wins or loses.

Fees are charged on a sliding scale based upon ability to pay so some clients may qualify for pro bono mediation at no cost.

Litigation is often described as a two-headed monster because it takes on a life of its own once in the hands of the trial attorneys. Litigation involves discovery (interrogatories, requests for admission, depositions, subpoenas for documentary evidence, etc.) often followed by trial, all of which can be costly in time, money, and emotional upset. During and after litigation the children often feel or witness the increased tensions and animosity that happens between parents. They often feel forced to choose between the parents or blame themselves for the break-up and resulting litigation. As a result, the children often become emotionally damaged for life, which affects relationships with parents, siblings, and even romantic partners.

Using these four stages of collaborative family and divorce mediation to reach a mutually acceptable resolution, the parties create a safe environment in which to collaborate and work through conflicts at every stage:

  1. Confirming the honest desire to mediate and creating ground rules to ensure a fair and safe experience
  2. Identifying all issues and exploring the underlying motivations behind the positions and the feelings
  3. Brainstorming creative alternatives and evaluating all possible solutions
  4. Achieving resolution then reviewing and signing documents that reflect all understandings and agreements.

Qualifications of Henry Koltys

As a family and divorce mediator, a former judge and trial attorney, and a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) guardian ad litem for neglected and abused children, Henry is very familiar with family law conflicts and paths to resolution. He has negotiated, mediated or arbitrated hundreds of cases over the last 30 years. He has received advice and teachings from Angeles Arrien, Byron Katie, Gary Friedman, Kathy Stoner, Judges Ross Foote and Donna Hitchens, Pauline Tesler, Nancy Ross, and other experts at resolution. Over the years, Henry has been member of numerous bar associations, he is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, an interdisciplinary, international association of professionals whose collaborative practice reduce the level of conflict between separating and divorcing couples. Henry has over 30 years of legal experience and 20 years of parenting experience.

In addition to his mediation, negotiation, and settlement experience, Henry has an educational background in divorce mediation, counseling and guidance, and Alternative Dispute Resolution through his graduate and post-graduate education and numerous continuing legal education workshops. He is very skilled at coaching, guiding, and using non-defensive approaches with even the most difficult personalities. His years of experience and training combine to present a great bedside manner so clients feel comfortable confiding in him. They trust him to provide wise counsel and sound guidance within equitable and workable solutions.

Henry is particularly adept at working with couples in medium or high conflict cases to resolve child custody, financial, and property issues. Based upon the agreed resolution determined by the parties, he crafts property agreements that accurately reflect the intention of the parties. He creates detailed child custody agreements and co-parenting plans that ensure the children are protected during the difficult time of separation and divorce. Henry mediates both independently or with a therapist co-mediator, occasionally using a multi-disciplinary team approach with therapists, attorneys or financial specialists representing each party.

Henry has co-presented workshops for family law professionals, demonstrating how KidsFirst! custody agreement and parenting plan software can be used to defuse and resolve complex issues around separation and dissolution. His most recent workshop was held in San Francisco with many attorneys (including Certified Family Law Specialists), mediators, and therapists (PhDs, MFTs and LCSWs) in attendance.

Henry is Chair of KidsFirst! Foundation, a non-profit to help children and families in transition and donate KidsFirst! software to low-income families and family law courts.

The Importance of Divorce Mediation for Resolution and Moving Forward

Henry's philosophy is straightforward: “Death, divorce, and separation are the three most stressful events in life, according to psychological research, so couples or families who break up receive a triple blow since a break-up is really a death. Those involved need to acknowledge this death and work through issues around grief, loss, responsibility, and guilt, whether through self-help such as reading and taking time to reflect or with trained professionals in group or individual therapy. Separation or divorce can be a tremendous opportunity for positive change, personal growth, and even transformation, freeing an individual to obtain peace of mind and mindfulness when forming new relationships.”

Working together towards the common goal of a lasting resolution, couples often learn new ways to view their relationships, their world, and even themselves. The new communication tools and problem-solving skills some parties learn will benefit them in many ways and in many situations. To learn more about using collaborative mediation to work through conflict and achieve a lasting resolution, contact Henry directly via email at or by phone at 415.710.1708

Family Wealth Transfer Mediation

Henry is very qualified to mediate issues involving the transfer and management of family wealth based on his decades of experience with wills, trusts, and estates, both as a practicing estate planning attorney and as a Trust Officer with Bank of Boston. He has successfully mediated between heirs of wills and beneficiaries of trusts in cases involving the administration or dispute of wills, trusts, powers of appointment, and conservatorships. Most wills and trusts contain a "no contest" clause that will automatically disinherit one or more heir or beneficiary if a court challenge is filed regarding the validity of the will or trust. Private mediation does not trigger the "no contest" clause and thus allows family members to negotiate these issues without risking disinheritance.

KidsFirst! Child Custody and Co-Parenting Plan Software

Henry Koltys is the legal expert behind KidsFirst! Child Custody and Co-Parenting software that helps parents collaborative to create child custody agreements and parenting plans. Nationally-recognized family law experts such as attorneys, therapists, divorce mediators, and custody evaluators have reviewed KidsFirst! and feel parenting plans can help protect children and promote positive communication between the parents. Some of these experts include Judge Donna Hitchens, Judge Ross Foote, Nancy Ross, Pauline Tessler, Peggy Thompson, Rodney Nurse, and David Sutton. Clients who license KidsFirst! receive expert counseling and advice to help them get to resolution without conflict. KidsFirst! is a collaborative tool for child custody and parenting that provides calendars with history tracking, behavior evaluations, child contracts, divorce forms, and even a FREE “Safe Child Plan.” Click here to learn more about child custody and co-parenting plans.

Copyright 1991-2011, Henry Koltys. All Rights Reserved.