Along with Collaboration and Mediation, you may sometimes hear the term “Cooperative Divorce”. Cooperative Divorce is not a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution like Collaboration and Mediation, but is rather a way of approaching a traditional litigated divorce.
There are no special rules or procedures associated with a Cooperative Divorce, but it does mean that the two sides (and particularly the attorneys) try to cooperate with each other to the extent possible to help the case resolve as simply and cost-effectively as possible.
When both attorneys, as well as their clients, work to be cooperative, discovery (obtaining needed information from the other side) goes most smoothly, and the need for hearings may be lessened. When there is a lack of cooperation, then typically more time will be spent trying to get the other side to do what one would hope they would do voluntarily (like turn over required documents, or schedule a settlement conference, or address some temporary issue that has arisen).
There may still be a need for some hearings to resolve legitimate disagreements that the two sides are too far apart on, but many hearings can be avoided if both sides are working to resolve disagreements cooperatively.
At Seattle Divorce Services we believe in taking a cooperative approach in our traditional litigation cases to the extent possible. We like to start out talking to the other attorney to see if they will be willing to work with us to resolve the case rather than fighting at every step.
We would prefer to work out reasonable solutions rather than run into court. However, if we are not able to get the other side to be cooperative in return, or there are issues that even working in good faith the two sides cannot reach an agreement on, a court hearing may be needed to avoid dragging the issue out unreasonably.