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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Faith and Family Mediation Clinic

Our Work

This Clinic's practice is at the intersection of California family law, interfaith and intercultural work, Jewish law and practice, and alternative dispute resolution and mediation. Clinic faculty and students provide mediation services to families in civil and religious courts.

For divorcing Jewish couples, parties often must receive a religious divorce in addition to a civil divorce. The Clinic collaborates with the Jewish Divorce Assistance Center of Los Angeles (JDAC), a non-profit organization focused on reaching amicable resolutions to civil and Jewish divorces through mediation and other supportive techniques. 

Student Experience

The Faith and Family Mediation Clinic is open to students of all faiths and no faith. The course is interdisciplinary with a parallel focus on California divorce law and the history and evolution of Jewish divorce law as well as divorce in the context of other religions. Jewish religious divorce practices and procedures provide students with an additional framework to deepen their understanding of the mediation process.

Using case law and clinical experience covering all aspects of negotiating and filing California state divorce settlement agreements, students learn to draft proposed settlement agreements and prepare and file divorce papers, including parenting arrangements, child support, asset division, spousal maintenance, and agreement clauses relating to religious practices. Students also learn how to effectuate Jewish divorce decrees and will observe Jewish divorce ceremonies in religious courts. Students observe and participate in real-life formal mediation under the supervision of the professor of the course.


Professor Sarah Nissel directs the Faith and Family Mediation Clinic and supervises students' work. For more information about the Clinic's course or practice, contact Professor Nissel at sarah.nissel@pepperdine.edu.