What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a method for managing conflict without a third party decision maker. We seek to help the parties handle their conflict without causing further damage to the relationship, and to help them transition their spouse/partner relationship into a new form of relationship, particularly where they need to be able to continue to function as co-parents.

Qualifying for Collaborative Divorce services means we need to discuss whether you and your spouse both:

  • WANT to stop fighting
  • Have the ability, with help, to listen to each other
  • Are willing to work at learning the communication skills it will take to problem solve together

A key distinction between litigation and Collaborative Divorce is that in litigation the negotiation is primarily power based, while in Collaboration the negotiation is primarily interest based. Power based negotiation is where the discussion primarily revolves around what the court is likely to do if we go to trial (what is the strength of each side’s case). Interest based negotiation is where we instead focus on ways in which we can best satisfy the interests (main goals) of both parties.

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 be resolved, we treat the issues as the problem rather than the other side.
  • The parties are supported by a team of specialists. Collaborative teams typically include divorce coaches, financial planners, and child specialists. Other team members may be brought in as needed.
  • Relationships are preserved to the extent possible. By developing skills in respectful negotiation, the parties are better prepared to continue to deal with each other in the future. This is particularly important when there are children involved, so that the parties can continue to co-parent effectively.

If you are interested in handling your divorce (or other family law action) through a Collaborative process, you will need to talk to the other party about this process and encourage him or her to find an attorney trained in Collaborative Law. We can supply a list of attorneys with whom we have working relationships, or names can be found on the King County Collaborative Law web site, www.kingcountycollab.org or www.respectfuldivorce.org.