Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in Washington
About the Collaborative Divorce Process
When it comes to dissolving a marriage, the process most people are familiar
with is the traditional method of resolving a
divorce using our system of justice which is rooted in the adversarial process.
And although the vast majority of divorce cases are resolved by negotiated
agreement between the parties, if parties are unable to reach a settlement
in family law matters using the traditional approach, the parties must
go to court and present their cases before a judge, the ultimate goal
being to convince the judge to rule in favor of your desired outcome.
Litigation has both advantages and shortcomings. While appropriate in many
situations, this may not be the ideal avenue for every couple seeking
a divorce. For couples in a low-conflict situation where there is a mutual
goal to leave the marriage as amicably as possible while achieving fairness,
Collaborative Divorce may be a good option.
Some benefits of Collaborative Divorce to consider include:
- The "final say" will not be in the hands of a judge
- Potentially less costly than traditional divorce, especially when heavy
litigation is involved
- Often, this option is less adversarial and more amicable than traditional divorce
The Collaborative Divorce lawyers at McKinley Irvin have helped many divorcing
couples reach reciprocally satisfying resolutions in a civil and respectful
manner by using various dispute resolution approaches, including Collaborative Divorce.
Working Together to Reach a Mutually Agreeable Resolution
In the unique process of Collaborative Divorce, each party retains a lawyer
specially trained to handle Collaborative Divorce cases. The lawyers representing
both parties are not at odds, as is the case with divorce litigation,
but rather work as a team to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
The collaborative team not only includes the divorcing couple and their
lawyers, but can also include a financial specialist, a divorce coach,
and a child specialist if children are involved.
Signing a Participation Agreement
The Collaborative Divorce process commences with the signing of a participation
agreement. By signing this agreement, both parties and their team members
agree to resolve all disputes outside of court and in a respectful, confidential
manner. The Participation Agreement also includes information about the
Collaborative Divorce process, such as its rules and expectations.
Settling and Resolving Collaborative Divorce Cases
In our experience, arriving at a resolution in collaborative cases typically
takes about the same amount of time as traditional divorce cases. The
lawyers will draft the formal agreement once both parties agree on a settlement,
and enter the agreed final orders with a court which legally dissolves
the marriage. These steps complete the collaborative proceeding with the court.
"What if we can't come to an agreement?" - Terminating the Collaborative Process
The Collaborative Divorce process is not right for everyone. In some cases,
both parties may be unable to come to an agreement. In this event, the
collaborative process can be terminated. Once the collaborative process
is terminated, both parties can move forward using the traditional method,
but may not do so using the attorneys or experts involved during the Collaborative
By choosing to terminate the collaborative process and move forward with
the traditional dispute resolution process, both parties are essentially
- Retain new counsel - collaborative attorneys cannot represent the parties
in any future litigation or traditional adversarial process, and
- Start case work over - in court, you generally cannot use the work that
was done in the collaborative process.
For those who like the idea of minimizing conflict but without the risk
of having to hire new divorce lawyers and starting the process over again,
we recommend considering the Cooperative Divorce dispute resolution model.
Is Collaborative Divorce Right For You?
Divorcing is not always an easy process, regardless of the method you choose.
Our team of skilled professionals will ensure that you choose the best
dispute resolution process for your unique situation. While Collaborative
Divorce is generally a more amicable option, it does not mean you and
your spouse have to agree at all times or on all points. Choosing this
method does, however, require both parties to be willing to understand
one another's point of view and to treat each other with respect in order
to arrive at a mutually beneficial resolution.
Collaborative Divorce also requires a significant amount of time and focus
on communication, four-way meetings, and engaged processing between the
parties themselves, with their attorneys, and with collateral professionals
involved in the case. As such, parties should be equally secure and confident
in their ability to openly and honestly communicate with one another.
Collaborative Divorce may also be a suitable option for non-traditional
families, such as couples in
same-sex relationships or couples in
non-marital relationships. The laws governing these family relationships are constantly evolving,
and our lawyers are at the forefront of this emerging area of family law.
McKinley Irvin will help you navigate through the unique issues and process
involved in Collaborative Divorce, whether you are in a traditional or
non-traditional family situation. If you are considering divorce and would
like to explore your options for resolving your divorce, we encourage you to
contact us and schedule a consultation. The Collaborative process is just one of
several approaches available for couples seeking a divorce. We will help
you identify the process, whether Collaborative or otherwise, that is
best for your particular circumstances.