melissa attorney at law

Melissa is a private practice family lawyer and mediator based in Washington, D.C.  She has been an adjunct faculty member of the George Washington University School of Law since 2010 and served as a consultant to the Hague Conference on Private International Law in 2013.

The Child’s Attorney: A Practical Guide to Representing Children in Custody Cases (ABA Publishing, forthcoming, 2018)

Becoming the Tech-Savvy Family Lawyer (ABA Publishing, 2013) (co-authored with Daniel J. Berlin)

Year-in Review 2017, International Family Law, 2018 Vol. ___, Co-Authored with Robert Spector (forthcoming)

Year-in Review 2016, International Family Law, 2017 Vol. 51, Co-Authored with Robert Spector

Year-in Review 2015, International Family Law, 2016 Vol. 50, Co-Authored with Robert Spector

Year-in Review 2014, International Family Law, 2015 Vol. 49, Co-Authored with Robert Spector

Online Dispute Resolution and Cross Border Family Disputes, BNA Family Law Reporter, 2015, Co-Authored with Colin Rule

Year-in Review 2013, International Family Law, 2014 Vol. 48, Co-Authored with Robert Spector

Guidelines for Direct Child Involvement in Contested Custody Litigation, AJFL, Fall 2014, Vol. 28, No. 3, Co-Authored with Kaitlin Ball

The Delicate Art of Mediating International Parental Child Abduction Cases, ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine, Winter 2014, Reproduced in Russian

Creating a Successful Structure to Mediate International Parental Abduction Cases, AJFL, Summer 2012, Vol. 26, No. 2

Growth Spurt Hits International Law Related to Children, MSBA Journal, Vol. XLV, No. 1, Jan/Feb 2012, Co-Authored with Hadrian Hatfield

The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Technology in Mediating International Parental Abduction Cases, University of Missouri Journal of Dispute Resolution, Vol. 2 J. Disp. Res. 297 (2010)

Culture in International Parental Kidnapping Mediations, Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal, Vol. 9, Issue III, 2008-2009, Reproduced with permission by IAFL Law Journal, Vol, 3

New York’s Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages, FLQ, Vol. 39, No. 3, Fall 2005

Evaluation of an Alternative Dispute Resolution Program in a Domestic Small Claims Court, Masters Thesis, American University, 2004

An Update on Cross-Border Family Mediation in the U.S., International Hague Network of Judges Meeting, October 2018 (Miami, FL)

Mediating International Parental Child Abduction Cases, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, August 22, 2018 (Webinar)

Cross-Border Family Mediation, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, June 21, 2018 (Greenbelt, MD)

Case Assessment: Identifying Families for Mediation and Educating them about the Process, International Social Service, George Washington University School of Law, June 5, 2018 (Washington, DC)

Global Projects in Cross-Border Family Mediation, Stanford University, April 10, 2018 (Palo Alto, CA)

Representing Children in International Cases, Montgomery County Roundtable, March 19, 2018 (Rockville, MD)

The Importance of Diversity in Selecting a Neutral, American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section, January 29, 2018 (Washington, D.C.)

The Care and Feeding of Your Expert: What Every Lawyer Should Know, Frederick County Bar Association, January 15, 2018 (Frederick, MD)

The Importance of Diversity in Selecting a Neutral, American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section, October 24, 2017 (Washington, D.C.)

The ABCs of the UCCJEA, Montgomery County Bar Association, March 29, 2017 (Rockville, MD)

Alternatives to Hague Abduction Proceedings, American Bar Association, Family Law Section, October 22, 2016 (Quebec City, Quebec, Canada)

Taken: International Parental Child Abduction, International Social Services, October 13, 2016 (Baltimore, MD)

Working with a Best Interest Attorney, Maryland Legal Aid, July 21, 2016 (Teleseminar)

Using Technology in Your Family Law Practice, West Virginia Bar Association, May 3, 2016 (Web)

When Kids are Held Hostage in Separation or Divorce: How to Implement the Hague Convention Worldwide, American Bar Association, Section of International Law, April 14, 2016 (New York, NY)

International Family Mediation Training, International Treaties and Conventions for International Children’s Cases, American Bar Association, November 9, 2015 (Washington, DC)

Advanced Best Interest Attorney Issues: When Things Are A Mess… Spotting Risk Factors, Human Trafficking, Dud Parents and More!, Maryland State Bar Association, February 6, 2015 (Annapolis, MD)

International Child Relocation, Montgomery County Bar Association, January 30, 2015 (Rockville, MD)

Implementation and Realization of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, International Law Association, International Law Weekend, October 24, 2014 – (New York, NY)

International Family Mediation In the United States, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs/U.S. Department of State Bilateral Meeting, September 18, 2014 (Tokyo, Japan)

International Family Mediation Training, Tokyo Bar Association, September 15 & 16, 2014 (Tokyo, Japan)

Mediating International Children’s Cases: Best Practices, Cultural Implications, and Legal Concerns, American Bar Association, Section of International Law, June 21, 2014 (Seattle, WA)

Child Protection and the Hague Abduction Convention, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, January 29, 2014 (Greenbelt, MD)

International Family Mediation Training, American Bar Association, November 11 – 15, 2013 (Washington, DC) – Co-Trainer

The Use of Online Dispute Resolution in Cross-Border Family Cases, Cyberweek 2013, November 4 – 8, 2013 (online)

How to Walk the Talk and Change the Conversation: Practical Insights from Women Who Have Risen Above the Glass Ceiling, American Bar Association, August 9, 2013 (San Francisco, CA)

Hague Conference on Private International Law, Family Law Treaties, European Young Bar Association, June 28, 2013 (Den Haag, Netherlands)

Mediating International Child Abduction Cases, Association for Conflict Resolution, May 1, 2013 (Teleseminar)

International Mediation – Why is it Different?, American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section, April 4, 2013 (Chicago, IL)

Recent Developments in International Family Law, International Law Association, International Law Weekend, October 26, 2012 (New York, NY)

International Child Abduction and Relocation Law, Montgomery County Bar Association, November 29, 2011 (Rockville, MD)

International Child Protection and Multi-Profession Approaches to Resolving Issues, International Social Service, November 3, 2011 (Washington, D.C.)

Cross Border Disputes: Mediating International Custody, Relocation, and Child Abduction, American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section, April 14, 2011 (Denver, CO)

Update on Mediation of International Family Matters, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, February 18, 2011 (Miami, FL)

Cross-Border Disputes: Mediating International Relocation, Abduction and Custody, Maryland Mediator’s Convention, December 10, 2010 (Baltimore, MD)

Mediating International Parental Abduction Cases, International Law Association, International Law Week, October 22, 2010 (New York, NY)

Mediating International Parental Kidnapping Cases in the United States: Ethical and Practical Considerations for Mediators on the Front Lines, The Centre for Family Law and Practice, July 2, 2010 (London, U.K.)

Mediating International Parental Abduction Cases, King County, Washington Bar Association, June 23, 2010 (Teleconference)

Mediating International Parental Abduction Cases, American Bar Association, May 21, 2010 (Washington, D.C.)

International Social Service:

Chair, International Family Mediation Interim Steering Committee, 2017 to present

Legal and Mediation Expert, Seventh Special Commission Meeting to Review the Practical Operation of the Hague Conventions (1980 Convention on Child Abduction and 1996 Convention on the Protection of Children), October 2017

U.S. Department of State:

Member, U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law, 2009 to present

Private Sector Advisor, Sixth Special Commission Meeting to Review the Practical Operation of the Hague Conventions (1980 Convention on Child Abduction and 1996 Convention on the Protection of Children), June 2011

Uniform Law Commission:

Member, Joint Editorial Board on Uniform Family Laws, 2012 to present

Observer, Drafting Committee for the UCCJEA due to the signing of the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention, 2012 – 2013

ABA Advisor, Drafting Committee on Recognition and Enforcement of Canadian Domestic Violence Protection Orders, 2013 – 2015

ABA Section Advisor, Study Committee on Economic Rights of Unmarried Cohabitants, 2017 – 2018

American Bar Association:

Family Law Section:

International Law Committee: Past Chair, Current Vice Chair
CLE Committee: Member
Drafting Committee for ABA Model Child Relocation Act: Member
Drafting Committee for ABA Model Third Party Custody Act: Member

Section of International Law:

Past Division Chair
Past Deputy to the Chair for Task Forces
Liaison to the Hague Conference on Private International Law
Family Law Committee: Past Co-Chair, Past Senior Advisor
International Family Mediation Task Force: Past Chair (2011 – 2016)
International Families Conference Chair, May 2012 (Washington, D.C.)
International Families Conference Chair, June 2014 (Seattle, WA)
ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting Co-Chair, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

Past Liaison between ABA Family Law Section and Section of International Law

Mediation Panels:

D.C. Court of Appeals, Appellate Mediation Panel, 2017 – present
Montgomery County, Maryland Circuit Court, Custody Mediation Panel, 2012 – present

40-hour basic training, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2003

20-hour child custody mediation training, Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education for Lawyers, 2009

40-hour International Family Mediation training, ABA, 2013 (Co-Trainer)

2-day Mediation Training for Muslim Community Leaders, Karamah, 2014

40-hour International Family Mediation training, ABA, 2015 (Co-Trainer)

8-hour domestic violence mediation assessment, Northern Virginia Mediation Services, 2017

20-hour family mediation training, CMG Foundation, 2017

8-hour facilitation training, Keybridge Foundation, 2003

2-day collaborative law training, Janis Pritchard, 2004

2-day strategic negotiation training, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, 2013

Superlawyers
Maryland Rising Star – 2012, 2013, 2015
D.C. Rising Star – 2015
D.C. Superlawyer – 2016, 2017

Avvo Rating: 10.0/10.0 Superb

Best Lawyers in America: 2018

Martindale Hubbell: AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating

ABA
Outstanding Contribution to the ABA Family Law Section Award, 2012
Chair of Most Improved ABA Section of International Law Committee, 2006 – 2007
Chair of Best Use of Section of International Law Committee Listserve, 2007 – 2008, 2008 – 2009
Chair of Outstanding Stand Alone Program for ABA Section of International Law, 2012
Chair of Outstanding Project for ABA Section of International Law, 2014
Outstanding Volunteer Award, ABA Section of International Law, 2014

Fellow, International Academy of Family Lawyers, 2017 – present

Member, Maryland Program for Mediator Excellence, 2012 – present

Member, American Bar Association (Family Law Section, Section of International Law)

Member, Montgomery County, Maryland Bar Association (Family Law Section)

Member, District of Columbia Bar Association

Member Association for Family and Conciliation Courts

J.D., 2006        Pace University School of Law, White Plains, New York

M.A., 2004      American University School of Law, Washington, D.C. International Peace and Conflict Resolution

B.A., 2001       University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, Anthropology

Maryland, 2006

District of Columbia, 2007

U.S. District Court for District of Maryland, 2009

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court, 2010