What is collaborative divorce in Washington State?

Couples in Pierce County who get divorced may be able to take advantage of collaborative divorce, a less adversarial option to traditional litigation.

It is well understood that a divorce is among the most emotionally difficult experiences a person can face. The challenges of divorce touch every single aspect of life. Most people in Federal Way have likely heard virtual horror stories from friends or family members about the angst of a divorce. From loss of time with one's children to long, drawn-out and expensive litigation, there seems no end to the upset of a divorce.

An alternative dispute resolution option

Today's couples that get divorced, however, do have an alternative to this type of alternative dispute resolution designed specifically to reduce the toll that divorces all too often take on spouses and children. According to CNBC, collaborative divorce is gentler approach to the end of a marriage.

The heart of a collaborative divorce centers around the involvement of legal, financial and mental health professionals. These professionals together create a team approach to reaching agreements about all facets of the divorce settlement. This includes property division issues, child custody and parenting time decisions and more. In general, a divorce completed through this method can be completed in less time and with less cost than a divorce settlement reached through litigation. This all facilitates a more cooperative atmosphere which is better not just for the spouses but for any children involved as well.

How does collaborative divorce work in Pierce County?

A local rule document for the Pierce County Superior Court indicates that couples wishing to pursue a collaborative divorce must present the court with an Order and Joint Notice of Participation in Collaborative Law. When this happens, a date will be set for a status conference. By this date, the couple should have reached a settlement and be able to provide that to the court at the conference.

If a settlement has not be reached by the date of the conference, the court can determine whether or not to extend or dismiss the case. How far along in the agreement process a couple is by the date of the conference may impact this decision by the court.

Reducing conflict after a divorce

While collaborative divorce aims to minimize the conflict during the divorce, couples can also look for ways to maintain a lowered level of conflict once their divorces are finalized. This can be especially useful for people who need to co-parent. The Huffington Post reported on the advent of many apps that may facilitate this. They can track costs related to kids' activities, for example, and reduce issues between parents about the expenditures.

Legal advice is important

No matter which path a couple takes to a divorce settlement, getting help from an attorney is important. Spouses should always take care to protect their rights during a divorce.

Keywords: divorce, collaborative, mediation, litigation