Alternatives to Divorce Court in Washington StateYou have decided to get divorced but don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of court proceedings. What options do you have to make your divorce less costly, less time-consuming, less public and less emotionally draining to you and your spouse?

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is one of the most effective options to traditional divorce. It is specifically designed to make divorce less combative and costly. Spouses must be able to temporarily put aside their differences and work together, but by doing so, they can reduce the length and difficulty of their divorce.

In a collaborative divorce, parties work cooperatively with their divorce attorneys (each party must have their own) to resolve all issues without the intervention of a court. For more complex issues, the parties may also enlist the assistance of financial, mental health or child welfare professionals.

The final settlement is a product of the parties and their attorneys. The sole function of the court is to sign and enter the final settlement.


For a couple that wants to keep their issues out of court, but may not be able to cooperate, mediation is an effective option. In mediation, a neutral mediator helps the parties resolve issues about division of assets, spousal and child support, and child custody. The mediator does not represent either party and does not make any decisions; instead, they facilitate the goal of reaching agreement on a settlement.

In mediation, each party should have their own divorce attorney to ensure that the settlement agreement properly reflects the parties’ decisions.

As with collaborative divorce, mediation is often faster, cheaper and more private than court proceedings. It also gives more control to the parties than to the court.


Arbitration can be an effective solution if the parties have a difficult relationship but want to keep their disputes out of open court. Arbitration is essentially a private trial, with one or more arbitrators chosen by the parties serving as judge. Arbitrators are typically legal experts with experience in alternative dispute resolution.

In an arbitration, both parties will present their case at an arbitration hearing. This hearing is less formal and less constrained by evidentiary rules than a court trial. After the hearing, the arbitrator enters a decision on all issues, which, based on party agreement beforehand, can be binding or non-binding.

While more expensive than collaborative divorce or mediation, arbitration is generally less costly and faster than going to court. But decisions are in the hands of the arbitrator rather than the parties.

If you are considering a divorce and want to better understand your options, we can help. At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we serve a diverse range of clients in the Seattle area and have decades of experience with alternative dispute resolution for divorce. To schedule a consultation, call us today, or use our online contact form to send an email.
Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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