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Considering collaborative divorce? Here's what you need to know

As the decades have past, the stigma surrounding divorce has disappeared. In fact, it would be a challenge for any Washington resident not to know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who is divorced. Because of its prevalence, those within the family law field have provided alternatives for those who do not want to go through the traditional courtroom drama formerly required of divorcing couples.

Mediation became more popular, and then, in the 1990s, a new method of divorce came onto the scene that is now finding its place among the alternatives to going to court: collaborative divorce. If you and your spouse are looking for a less contentious, time-consuming and expensive way to resolve your divorce issues, this method may be right for you.

What makes a collaborative divorce so special?

This method provides an atmosphere in which the parties and their attorneys can work together to reach a settlement. You and your spouse receive the encouragement you need to cooperate and compromise. The atmosphere is less about one side against another and more about coming together side-by-side as you create your individual futures.

What is the process like?

You and your spouse start by entering into an agreement to commit fully to the process. You both agree to work in good faith, provide full disclosure and act fairly toward each other during the negotiations. Your attorneys must also commit to the process. They sign an agreement that, if the process breaks down and you end up in litigation, they cannot represent you. This invests your attorney in helping you reach an amicable resolution instead of fostering an adversarial atmosphere.

Unlike mediation, the negotiations consist of only you and your attorneys. No neutral third party gets involved to facilitate the process. You meet on neutral ground and resolve your issues. You may bring in others to help you make the best decisions possible such as accountants, appraisers and tax advisers. If you have children involved, you could bring in a counselor to provide feedback regarding custody and visitation arrangements.

The benefits of the process

Other than achieving a mutually satisfactory settlement in a cooperative atmosphere, this process also tends to save time and money. Litigation can stretch out for weeks, months or even years. During that time, tensions tend to increase, and any chance of an amicable resolution often disappears. In addition, the court takes away your right to control the outcome.

In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse maintain control over the future of your family and your individual futures. You may also tailor your divorce settlement to your needs, which means you can come up with resolutions to your issues that a judge may not be able to consider.

A Washington family law attorney who participates in collaborative divorce can answer any additional questions you may have regarding the process.

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