have found Collaborative
Law and mediation to be effective in reaching excellent agreements while preserving privacy and dignity. Both processes are ways to negotiate
good divorce settlements with integrity—and without the disadvantages of involving a court in making decisions.
is a process in which each party has a trained Collaborative lawyer
whose sole focus is on helping their client reach a satisfactory settlement.
Unlike any other process, Collaborative Law can maximize effectiveness by
offering legal, financial, child-development, and communication services in a coordinated team effort to help you and your spouse
cost-effectively reach agreement.
Read more: Collaborative Divorce.
a process where a neutral and impartial mediator helps you reach an agreement.
A mediator can keep the conversation on task
and productive, guide the process, and help you get the information you need so
you can make good decisions and reach an agreement. Read
more: Divorce Mediation.
are other divorce options.
Family Law and Divorce Options.
If you can preserve (or
create) a working relationship
with your co-parent in yourr divorce, your children will do better. Children
don't do well when their parents experience acrimony. It's rare to be able to
work well as co-parents following a court battle, and the children pay the price. If you choose Collaborative Law or mediation, you have chosen a family-focused
It allows the opportunity for parents to work together to build a healthier
future for your children.
In court, too often everyone loses—even the “winner.” Courts are simply not well-suited to restructuring families. Court
battles perpetuate power struggles and are very expensive—both financially and emotionally. To add insult to injury, in divorce court
intimate details about your life are placed in the public record (available to anyone). There are other ways: instead of turning over their
life's most important decisions to strangers, more and more divorcing and separating couples are choosing Collaborative divorce or mediation.
When doing so, they focus their energy on reaching agreements through a process
that is more respectful, and which better preserves relationships,
dignity, and privacy.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
You retain the important decisions about your life for yourself ... instead of turning over those decisions to
At all times, you are an active participant in the process.
You have the assistance of professionals whose entire focus and effort is to help you reach settlement.
Your agreements can be as unique as you are.
You can have the benefit of education and support from other helpful professionals, such as neutral financial specialists, child specialists, and divorce coaches.
You can avoid adding to the pain, and can realize real solutions, by working through the issues instead of engaging in a power struggle.
You can preserve your post-divorce relationships while working through difficult issues.
You and your spouse work jointly to find solutions within a process structure that helps you stay on track.
Collaborative Divorce is not for everyone, so be sure to consult with an
attorney who is trained and experienced in the process if you are
considering this option.
Read more: Collaborative Divorce.
When you and your spouse reach resolutions that align with your values and priorities, the agreements are better and more durable. We work with you by listening carefully and focusing on your priorities
to be addressed in your divorce agreement. We then explore options and work with you to help create an agreement with your spouse—a reality-based divorce settlement that is consistent with your values and priorities.
Realities of Old-Style Divorce
old-style divorce lawyers (which often involves
actual or threatened court action), is an option that can have disadvantages. Here are some realities about that option:
In a court divorce, a judge makes life-altering decisions for you
based on evidence and legal arguments ... and may get it wrong. You get to live with the consequences.
divorce legal fees are extremely expensive (more than you would likely imagine or
may be quoted).
Old-style divorce often starts a destructive cycle where one court battle or power struggle merely follows another. These cycles can go on for years
in the future with “modifications” and other proceedings, each time resulting in
more legal fees. (The alternative is to take the power struggle out of
your divorce from the beginning.)
court divorce inevitably exacts an emotional toll for all involved. It is not uncommon for everyone to emerge from court embittered,
with outcomes vastly different from what either or both lawyers predicted.
Commonly, court decisions become meaningless
so-called “paper judgments”—court orders that are not followed. When that
happens, no one gets the outcome they desired or thought they got.
The court usually does a poor job restructuring families. Most judges lack training in family systems or child development. Many don't
fully understand how a court power struggle contributes to creating dysfunctional post-divorce families.
In court, intimate details of your finances and other matters
must be disclosed and can become a public record, available to anyone.
Old-style divorce is structured as an adversarial system, where it is assumed that
the advocacy must be “zealous”
without considering the family or the long-term impact. The court makes decisions based on arguments made by divorce lawyers,
both of whom argue to “win” something that cannot be winnable.
What to expect in your divorce?
Read more: Divorce and Family Law
Instead of having a
judge who knows little about you and your family make life-changing decisions in your life, you
can negotiate and make your own decisions.
Both the Collaborative Law process and mediation are designed to allow you to make
good, well-informed, decisions about your post-divorce future. You work from the
very start towards a settlement that satisfactorily addresses
all issues, including property division, child support, spousal maintenance, and
parenting plan. You don't need
to wait until after expensive
legal wrangling that only results in entrenched positions. You
don't need to waste your time in a dynamic that tries to create a “winner” at the
expense of a “loser.” Instead, using Collaborative Law or mediation, we can focus on the real questions that need to be addressed and
on the best solutions.
Collaborative Divorce and mediation are both effective processes that have helped many couples successfully resolve their disagreements and reach a settlement.
Most all issues to be addressed in divorce are routinely resolved in
both processes, including property division, child
support, spousal maintenance (allimony), and parenting (child custody and
visitation). No process is perfect for every situation so it is important that you make the choice that is right for you. At an initial consultation, we will help you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of
all available options (including options we may not offer), so you can better select the
most appropriate process for you.
We encourage you to learn as much as possible so you can make the right choice
for your divorce.
In divorce mediation, an impartial mediator assists you and your spouse to reach agreements. The mediator facilitates your work together so you stay on track and the discussion is productive.
While not required, many parties have divorce lawyers to advise them in-between
mediation sessions, or to write up the final documents once agreements have been
reached. Read more:
Rated among the “25 best” family law attorneys in Washington State by Washington Law and Politics magazine, J. Mark Weiss has
for more than 27 years helped clients through their divorce. Mark has extensive
experience in court, in mediation, and in Collaborative Divorce. Mark received the “Attorney of the Year” award from the Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section,
was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, has continuously been on the “Super Lawyers” list of Washington Law and Politics Magazine since 2007, and is “AV” rated (preeminent) by
His practice is now entirely focused on
family law dispute resolution. Read more: About Mark
Educating Yourself About Divorce
1. Before committing, learn as much as you can about divorce and available process options.
A good place to start is our Divorce Options
page, that discusses what is available, so you can make the best choice for yourself.
2. Call us to make an appointment for a no-obligation consultation, so you can:
Explore what may be most important for you in your future.
Understand your options and evaluate which one(s) may be best for your unique situation.
Identify the factors that will help you determine whether a Collaborative Divorce, mediation, or another process is best for your unique circumstances—what might be right for someone else may not be right for you.
Plan what's next based on what is most suitable for you.
How to schedule an appointment? Here's how to Contact
3. Think carefully about the professionals you wish to work
with. Read more:
a Divorce Lawyer.
Because old-style divorce
often relies on the court for many decisions, personal information can end up in
the court record, which is mostly publicly accessible. Under Washington State
law, all discussions in the Collaborative Divorce and mediation processes are
confidential. And, once
you have reached an divorce settlement, your lawyers can place many of its details into a
private binding contract instead of a public court order or decree.