What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a nonadversarial way for divorce attorneys to work together to help their respective clients resolve their divorce issues. Collaboration offers a process for managing conflict without a third-party decision maker. In a this process, a Seattle collaborative divorce attorney seeks to help the parties handle their conflict without causing further damage to the relationship and to transition their marriage/partnership into a new form of relationship, particularly when they need to be able to continue to function as co-parents.

To determine whether you qualify for collaborative divorce services, a Seattle collaborative divorce attorney will need to discuss whether you and your spouse both:

  • Want to avoid fighting
  • Have the ability, with help if needed, to really listen to each other
  • Are willing to work with specialists to problem-solve together

In a collaborative divorce case, the focus is on providing a safe, peaceful, and respectful process for both parties. We meet together to plan ways to resolve the issues. By approaching the issues as mutual problems to resolve, we treat those issues as the problem rather than seeing the other party as the problem.

Does Collaborative Divorce Require Special Training?

Collaborative lawyers as well as the other team members undergo extensive training in collaborative process and mediation skills, as well as cross-discipline training to enable us to work better as a team. I tell people that it is actually harder and takes more skills to help people talk to each other than it does to talk for them!

How Will My Seattle Collaborative Divorce Attorney Manage My Claim?

You and your spouse will typically work with a professional divorce team in a collaborative divorce case, including two collaborative lawyers, a financial specialist, a divorce coach, and a child specialist. The purpose of this divorce team is to help manage conflict, encourage respectful problem-solving, and assist you in crafting the settlement that best fits you and your family.

Some meetings will be with a specific specialist to work on details, and some will be with the whole group where we work on the bigger picture.

There are several steps we work through:

  • Information gathering – for instance, you will work with the financial specialist to gather the financial information that will be needed, and the coach to learn more about you and your spouse
  • Goal setting – we will help you define what is most important to you in any potential outcome
  • Exploring options – we need to look at different solutions to the issues as well as their pros and cons
  • Narrowing the options – the team will help you and your spouse look at the different options that have been identified and decide which best fit your goals to reach a mutually agreeable resolution
  • Formalize the agreement – your lawyers will work with you and the rest of the team to prepare the documents that the court needs to put your agreement into effect

What Happens If A Collaborative Divorce Fails or Turns Confrontational?

Occasionally we have a couple who do not do well in the collaborative process. The process is not for everyone, which is why we need to have a discussion before we start about whether it is the right kind of process for you. It takes a dedication to working hard, to working cooperatively, and to speaking for yourself (with professional support where needed).

When a couple tries collaborative divorce but ultimately finds that it is not working well for them, we then discuss what their alternatives are, and help them transition to new counsel (generally litigation attorneys) who can help them move forward in a new direction.

However, usually even in those cases there has been a substantial amount accomplished in the collaborative process that they can carry forward to limit the issues needing to be resolved through the courts.

How Do I Proceed If I am Interested In A Collaborative Divorce?

We encourage you to take a look at our collaboration attorney profiles to find the best fit for your needs. If you are unsure of what to ask or how to look for the right Seattle collaborative divorce attorney, contact us and we’ll be happy to help match you with the right attorney for your situation.

If after talking with one of our collaborative divorce lawyers you decide you would like to have a collaborative divorce, you will need to talk to the other party and encourage him or her to find an attorney trained in collaborative law. Your lawyer can supply you with information about collaboration to share with your spouse as well as a list of outside collaborative lawyers we think highly of.

For more information about the collaborative approach, see CollaborativePractice.com and KingCountyCollab.org.

We encourage you to take a look at our collaboration attorney profiles to find the best fit for your needs. If you are unsure of what to ask or how to look for the right Seattle collaborative divorce attorney, contact us and we’ll be happy to help match you with the right attorney for your situation.