Common Questions About Collaborative Divorce

When you’re facing the stress and uncertainties of divorce, the prospect of a bitter court battle is an additional heavy burden. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.

At Meridian Family Law in Seattle, we have Collaboratively trained lawyers who can assist you in your Collaborative divorce. These attorneys focus on helping their clients reach a resolution in this client-based, out-of-court process. Not every case is suitable for the Collaborative process, and not every attorney can work in the Collaborative approach. Those attorneys at Meridian Family Law who practice in the Collaborative area can explore with you whether Collaborative is the right approach for your case.

How expensive is Collaborative divorce?

The total cost of any case including Collaborative divorce cases varies depending on the complexity of your circumstances, and the ability of both parties to work efficiently toward reaching agreements. However, when compared to litigation, the overall cost of aCcollaborative divorce can be less expensive and less time-consuming.

How long does a Collaborative divorce take?

The answer again is that it depends. Most Collaborative divorces take between three to six joint sessions to reach agreements depending on the issues to be resolved. A lot depends on the willingness of both parties to follow through and work in good faith, with honesty and integrity, toward resolution. In general, Collaborative divorce can be faster and more efficient than a traditional court-based process.

What should I look for in a Collaborative divorce attorney?

Find a lawyer who is trained in Collaborative law and experienced in handling Collaborative divorces. They should be familiar with all the nuances of Washington divorce law, including complex asset division, parenting time (custody) issues and alimony (spousal maintenance). They should have a strong commitment to open communication and a dedication to empowering you to make informed decisions throughout the process.

How is Collaborative divorce different from mediation?

Collaborative divorce is not mediation. In mediation the parties meet with a neutral mediator (either with or without their respective attorney present) and the mediator manages their settlement discussions. The mediator does not provide legal advice.

With Collaborative divorce, you will both have your own attorney dedicated solely to the Collaborative process along with other jointly retained Collaborative professionals (such as a divorce coach and financial specialist). There is also a contract – called a participation agreement – that is signed by both parties and all professionals involved. The professional team is dedicated to assisting the parties in reaching mutually agreeable resolutions on all issues in an open and transparent process. Collaborative law is a client-driven process with the help of the Collaborative professionals. Each attorney is there to provide their client with legal advice, to help the Collaborative process move forward efficiently and to draft the legal documents necessary to start and finish a divorce.

What happens if my Collaborative divorce case ends before resolution?

In accordance with Washington law, if a Collaborative process terminates, the Collaborative attorneys will need to withdraw. The lawyers cannot represent the parties in future contested proceedings. This disqualification of the attorneys protects the parties by preventing lawyers from using the Collaborative process to gather information to use in later litigation.

The parties and professionals may agree that the parties can take work that was done in the Collaborative divorce into their new process such as the financial report of their jointly hired financial neutral.

There is typically a 30-day period at the end of a Collaborative divorce matter before any litigation can begin so that each party has time to find a new attorney and transition their case into their new process.

Get Answers To More Of Your Collaborative Divorce Questions

For guidance on any aspect of Collaborative divorce in Washington, please reach out to us online or by phone at 206-569-5346. We are happy to address your questions and help you evaluate whether Collaborative divorce is right for your situation.