Elissa DaCosta-Waldman

As a family lawyer of many years standing, and as someone who has seen the wide ranging effect of relationship breakdown on families, I am keen that the lay public, together with the assistance of their legal representatives, consider the options that are open to them when these disputes need to be resolved.

There is a great deal of research on the effects of relationship dis-ease and breakdown on children.  Sadly, children can suffer and blame themselves for what is happening at home regardless of how sensitively their parents try to deal with matters.  

Grandparents become excluded, often unintentionally, from the lives of their grandchildren at a time when their presence and assistance could ease everyone through a difficult period.

The parties going through relationship breakdown become depressed, angry, upset and frightened about the future.  Communication is difficult if not impossible.  In many instances there is a sense of betrayal and mistrust.

For many who have experienced the emotional, financial and familial upheaval of broken relationships yet still embark on new relationships, assistance in ensuring the stability and security of those new alliances is essential, in the form of the cohabitation or pre nuptial agreement.

Having seen what happens to Clients and the impact on their children and wider family relationships, during and after the litigation process, I am of the firm view that litigation is best avoided in family disputes, although I am a formidable advocate in the event court is the only option in the particualr case.

There are many pieces of equipment in the lawyer’s toolbox that can assist parties in avoiding court and retaining civilised and dignified relationships in reconfigured families well into the future.  Where the relationship is successful, the lawyer has a range of safeguards that can be put into place to ensure that it continues.  I am passionate about assisting families to find ways of dispute resolution that best suits their needs.

My approach

I am passionate about finding solutions to Client's difficulties in a way which enables them to move on in their lives in a positive manner.   I adopt a practical approach to dealing with client concerns and searching for the appropriate ways to resolve my Client's relationship issues enabling them to continue to communictae with their former partner in a dignified nad principled way, important especially if they share children.

My work

Clients come to see me with a variety of problems from divorce and the financial matters arising out of that as wellas  the fall-out from splitting up from a partner having bought a home together and worrying about how to deal with realising a share in the jointly owned house.  I also deal with Inheritance Claims where a Client expected to receive a legacy in a former partner's will and did not or a surviving spouse who did not receive sufficient from their deceased spouse's estate.

About me

Elissa was called to the Bar in 1990 although she has worked in legal practices since 1973.  Using a creative and innovative approach to finding solutions to client’s financial matters on relationship breakdown, Elissa prides herself on having an ‘inclusive practice’ demonstrating approachability and sensitivity in dealing with alternative family structures.  Thus, in addition to her practice in Matrimonial Finance, Elissa is also an expert in cohabitation claims of both heterosexual and homosexual partners, including drafting cohabitation agreements at the beginning of the cohabitational relationship and dealing with matters by agreement at its end.

Where litigation is the appropriate means of bringing the dispute to conclusion Elissa is an assertive and effective advocate, being National Institute of Trial Advocacy trained.  However, although she has a wealth of advocacy experience, Elissa is a strong proponent of dispute resolution methods that avoid court believing that relationship breakdown requires a solutions based approach rather than an adversarial one.

Elissa is a principled negotiator following the ethos of the Harvard Business School, as well as an experienced Resolution trained mediator.  She became a Collaborative Lawyer in 2005 having collaborated herself in several cases as well as being instructed as an expert for both parties in other collaborative cases.

In May 2012, Elissa qualified as a Family Law Arbitrator and is now a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

What my clients say

'Elissa, you're a star', Liz Whittle, solicitor at KWW

'Thank you for your support and kindness'.  Your infectious joie de vivre and sense of humour made our medation painless.'

It was a pleasure to meet you. I only wish Jayne and I had met you a year and half ago and maybe our relationship problems could have been resolved


Professional & academic

Elissa is a Barrister, Mediator, Collaborative Lawyer and Family Law Arbitrator.

She is a published author of legal works and continues to write regularly for legal journals such as Family Law and Resolution Review

Elissa also lectures solicitors and barristers on Family Law related topics

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