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Neil Forester
Neil Forester

Practitioner Mediator

Practitioner MediatorThis mediator has at least 100 hours of mediation training, has mediated at least 50 cases for at least 200 hours, agrees to take part in at least 12 hours per year of continuing mediation education, and subscribes to's required standards of mediation practice..Featured Member

Neil Forester

I have spent much of my career negotiating and litigating divorce cases, and can offer expertise and an “insider” perspective about the realities of family court. My practice emphasizes mediation and arbitration whenever possible as a more efficient alternative to lawsuits, court hearings, and expensive lawyering. When litigation is unavoidable, I provide specialized counseling and strategic guidance for navigating the courtroom.

For more than 18 years, my work has covered marital dissolution, business valuations, property division, child custody orders, child support calculations, and spousal support awards. I also help individuals with prenups, adoptions, cohabitation agreements, LGBTQ+ legalities, and pet parenting contracts.  I am certified as an arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and as of 2023 hold a Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Law.

ADR Experience

I have been working in the ADR arena for many years in private settlement conferences, and in stand-alone mediations and arbitrations. I have worked with hundreds of family law clients in varied roles (representative, consultant, mediator, arbitrator), and have focused my practice since 2020 on ADR exclusively. I have conducted dozens of virtual mediations and arbitrations since then, though I have also worked in “in-person” matters during this time. In 2021, I began the process of obtaining some additional credentialing through the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Law, and earned a Certificate in Dispute Resolution in 2023. I expect to earn my LL.M. degree in 2024.


In mediation, I typically utilize a blended approach, as each case brings with it its own dynamic and special circumstances. In cases that might benefit from a more “evaluative” approach – like those that need a risk assessment if mediation fails and litigation becomes necessary – I lean on my 18+ years as a family law litigator to provide some perspective and a range of possible outcomes that can help parties formulate a more informed settlement. In cases involving more complex emotional or psychological issues, I use a more “facilitative” approach to broaden the settlement discussions and offer creative approaches to resolving particularly difficult issues. The evaluative approach tends to rely more on a “legal” approach to issues, whereas the facilitative model relies more on pragmatism and in finding areas of overlapping interests. Family law matters often involve issues that may require both approaches at different times during the process, and I am comfortable moving in and out of these approaches as the matter requires.

In my role as arbitrator, I find that a less formalistic approach suits most cases, though if the parties and attorneys express an interest in following a particular set of arbitration rules, I will of course accommodate them. Arbitration is much more of a formal legal process than mediation is, though I will invite the parties and attorneys to work together to resolve issues short of the actual arbitration proceeding if that is possible. If it is not, I favor an efficient process that allows for the arbitration to conclude expeditiously, and will generally issue the award soon after conclusion of the proceeding.


Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law – LL.M. in Dispute Resolution (Mediation Concentration) (expected May 2024)

Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law – Certificate in Dispute Resolution (January 2023)

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law – JD (with Distinction) (May 2004)

California State University, Sacramento – BA (Summa Cum Laude) (May 2001)




Areas Of Practice

  • Divorce (all issues)
  • Divorce (parenting)
  • Family
  • Marital Mediation
  • Online Family/Divorce
  • Online Mediation
  • Pet Mediation
  • Prenuptial

Additional Services

  • Arbitrator
  • Mediating Lawyer
  • Mediation Consultant
  • Mediator-Arbitrator
  • Online Arbitrator
  • Parenting Coordinator



Fees and Provisos

I work both as a neutral and as a representative in non-litigation-based family law matters. My hourly mediator fee is $450, though I also can offer flat fee mediation depending on the complexity of the individual case. My arbitrator rate is $500 per hour, as is my rate in a representative capacity in a mediation or arbitration.

Liability Insurance

  • Yes

ADR Training

  • Negotiation Theory (Straus Institute)
  • Mediation Theory (Straus Institute)
  • Online Dispute Resolution (Straus Institute)
  • Psychology of Conflict Communication (High Conflict Personalities) (Straus Institute)
  • Divorce and Family Mediation (Straus Institute)
  • Arbitration Practice and Advocacy (Straus Institute)
  • Developing Supply and Demand Side of Mediation Markets (Straus Institute)


  • Hero of Human Services Award, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, 2014
  • Best of the Bar, Sacramento Business Journal, 2014 - 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Top Lawyers, Sacramento Magazine, 2015 - 2022
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, 2017 - 2022
  • Sacramento Top 25, Northern California Super Lawyers, 2020- 2021

Professional Associations

  • Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (Northern California Chapter)
  • Member, Association of Certified Family Law Specialists (California)
  • Member, Academy of Professional Family Mediators
  • Member, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Member, Placer County and Sacramento County Bar Associations

Publications & Presentations

  • Best Practices in Family Law Mediation (Panelist Presenter), Continuing Education of the Bar, October 2022
  • Beyond the Basics: Domestic Violence Trial Advocacy Workshop (Architect and Presenter), Sacramento County Bar Association, November 2017
  • Effective RFO Practice - Motions for Family Law Attorneys (Panelist), Continuing Education of the Bar, March 2016
  • Family Law Jurisdiction (Presenter - Family Law Intensive Course), Continuing Education of the Bar, 2015
  • Understanding the Nuances of Inter-Spousal Fiduciary Duties, Continuing Education of the Bar (Presenter - 2011 California State Family Law Conference, San Francisco)
  • Financial Discovery in Family Law Cases, Continuing Education of the Bar (Presenter - Sacramento Convention Center), 2009
  • California Child Custody Litigation and Practice, Continuing Education of the Bar (Co-Author - Chapter 19: General Enforcement Remedies)
  • Family Law: Financial Discovery, Continuing Education of the Bar (Author - Chapter 8 Date of Separation and General Property Division)
  • California Child and Spousal Support: Establishing, Modifying, and Enforcing, Continuing Education of the Bar (Author - Chapter 11: Interstate Support Enforcement and Modification)
  • Ethical Issues for Family Law Attorneys, and Property and Financial Issues in Marital Dissolutions, National Business Institute (Presenter - "Family Law from A to Z"), Sacramento, December 2012
  • Modern Pet Parenting and the Rise of the Petnup, Outword Magazine, October 2020
  • Prenups and the Self-Made Spouse, Outword Magazine, February 2020
  • "Have the Money Conversation" Says Your Would-Be Divorce Lawyer, Outword Magazine, Feb/Mar 2018
  • A Look at "Alternative Facts" Surrounding Prenups, Outword Magazine, Feb/Mar 2017