Katherine Miller

Karen BigmanBlog

Katherine Miller
Mediation/Collaborative Law
Greater New York Area

katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com
westchesterfamilylaw.com
914-738-7765

Katherine went to law school to follow her interest in justice and people. She comes from a family of Psychologists and wanted to see how people and law intersected.  After law school her work included Matrimomial law and issues surrounding child welfare. Her experience highlighted how flawed the system was and how bad a setting it was for families.

Katherine went on to train in Mediation with the intention of helping divorcing families in a way that made sense for them, not the way the courts mandated. When she experienced her own divorce she vowed to have a better outcome than what she had seen. She and her ex-husband agreed to a bifurcated divorce negotiating the financial component and the parenting issues as two separate agreements.

Katherine eventually learned about the collaborative approach to divorce. Within fifteen minutes of her first class she “felt like she was coming home.” For the past fifteen years, her practice has been exclusively mediation and collaborative divorce.

The practice of Collaborative Divorce “gives you an amazing opportunity to get really close to people that are in a vulnerable place where they let you in”, Katherine says. She tells her clients that divorce is the “intersection of what was and what will be” and that it’s really an opportunity to take stock of:

  • Where you are
  • Who you are
  • What your core values are
  • What you want your life to be

It’s also an opportunity to structure the rest of your life in alignment with where you are now which is different than where you were when you got married.

Katherine works on an “understanding based model.” As a mediator, she lets both parties know the range of possible outcomes. She meets clients where they are. Some clients want autonomy and privacy and want to fashion their own deal using her to guide the conversation. Some may want to know what the law is but don’t want to be told what to do, they may want to negotiate outside the law. What’s most important in her mind is that the process is a good match for the clients.

As a consulting attorney in mediation (where other mediators helped negotiate the settlement), Katherine feels her role is to gently challenge the deal. She wants to ensure that her clients understand that the agreement they have says what they think it does and that the deal they agreed to will work the way they want it to.

Her bias towards the Collaborative Divorce process stems from the realization that there are legal issues in divorce but lawyers can underestimate the emotional issues. Having a team approach makes sure that all the issues are out in the open and no surprises occur after the agreement is signed.

Katherine attributes her ability to communicate so successfully with clients to her expertise as a Dressage horseback rider which she began at seven years old. She knows that when you communicate with animals, you can’t do it verbally. You need to really understand the horse and be clear with what the horse is feeling to be a good rider. As an attorney working in divorce, feeling what’s going on and being able to read and understand non-verbal cues contributes to making the negotiation successful.

An initial meeting with Katherine will last 60-90 minutes where she will listen to your story, explain the basic divorce process (she calls it Divorce 101) and what the next steps will be. You can expect to leave her office with homework to get the process going.