What Is Collaborative Divorce? What are the Pros & Cons of Washington Collaborative Divorce?

couple going through collaborative divorceCollaborative divorce is a type of alternative dispute resolution that can help couples avoid litigation and agree on a settlement without going to court. It differs from divorce mediation in that instead of being organized by a neutral, trained mediator, the couple and their respective collaborative divorce attorneys come to decisions about division of property and child custody working together as a team of four.

Collaborative divorce can be much less expensive than divorce litigation and may take less time than if your divorce went to court. It may also help you and your ex establish a non-adversarial relationship after your divorce that may help your ability to co-parent successfully. Finally, collaborative divorce is more private than divorce litigation and could have less affect on your health than an adversarial divorce.

A Washington collaborative divorce is not for everyone, however. This alternative divorce resolution process will not work unless both parties are willing to compromise, communicate openly, and be honest about assets. Much like mediation, collaborative divorce is not a good idea for any family that has issues with domestic abuse, emotional abuse, addiction problems, or trust problems.

Collaborative divorce benefits from attorneys who understand the process and have experience with divorce collaboration. At the beginning of collaboration, each attorney usually signs an agreement that states that they will not continue with the case if collaboration fails. Instead, each party usually hires a different attorney to take with them to court if the collaboration process does not yield a settlement. If you would like to speak to a Seattle attorney who has handled collaborative divorces in the area, call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today at 425-460-0550.

Advantages of Washington Collaborative Divorce

Washington collaborative divorce is an excellent choice if you and your spouse are looking to settle using alternative dispute resolution. Much like mediation, divorce collaboration takes the power out of the judge’s hands and into the hands of you and your spouse. Unlike mediation, it also involves a lot of help from your attorneys as well as other experts, such as financial advisors and child custody experts. Let’s take a closer look at the six biggest advantages of collaborative divorce:

  • Collaborative divorce is less expensive. Although divorce collaboration can be more expensive than divorce mediation, it is almost always less expensive than taking your divorce to court (unless the collaborative divorce process fails).
  • Collaborative divorce is more private. Like divorce mediation, collaborative divorce allows you to keep your finances and other personal matters private, as opposed to divorce court, when you may have to publically speak about your property, your marriage, and your split.
  • Collaborative divorce can be emotionally easier. Divorce collaboration is often less stressful and less combative than a court divorce – you aren’t dealing with the idea that a judge decides your fate and you aren’t fighting with your ex as much as you are working with them.
  • Collaborative divorce can be faster. If you and your partner cooperate, divorce collaboration can be much faster than a court divorce. Working together openly, compromising, and allowing concessions make the process go much more smoothly and quickly.
  • You work together instead of against one another. Collaboration is about teamwork, while a court divorce is more often seen as one side winning and the other side losing. Working together during your divorce can make it easier for you to continue a non-romantic relationship with your ex after the divorce, which may be extremely important if you have children.
  • You are in control of the settlement. In a court divorce, the judge has the final say when it comes to your finances, your property, and even your parenting plan. In mediation, a neutral mediator guides you and your spouse to a mutual decision. In divorce collaboration, you, your partner, and your attorneys control the details of the settlement.

Disadvantages of Choosing Collaborative Divorce

While there are a number of benefits to collaborative divorce, there are also some disadvantages that make it a poor choice for certain people, certain couples, and certain divorces. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Collaboration is difficult if one partner doesn’t cooperate or compromise.
  • Collaboration is difficult if you have a complicated divorce or complex finances.
  • Collaboration may be impossible if there is a history of domestic abuse or drug addiction.
  • Collaboration may be impossible if you or your partner suffers from a mental illness.
  • Collaboration won’t be successful if one partner is untruthful or untrustworthy, especially about property and other assets.
  • One bad team member can ruin a collaborative, whether it is your former spouse or one of the attorneys involved.
  • The cost of collaboration may be significant if you choose to bring in child custody experts and financial advisors.
  • Collaboration doesn’t have a neutral moderator like divorce mediation does.
  • If collaboration fails, you and your spouse will need to find new divorce attorneys.
  • Collaboration can be a more expensive option if you end up in court after failing to reach a settlement.

If the above disadvantages do not appear to be factors in your divorce case, you may wish to consider collaborative divorce or mediation instead of divorce litigation. If you are still unsure of how you wish to approach your Washington divorce, you may wish to speak to a Seattle family lawyer about your options. 

To learn more about this process, and to find out if collaborative divorce might be the best option for you and your family, contact the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today at 425-460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny