We help divorcing and separating clients
reach agreements so they and their families can move forward. Divorce
can be challenging, and your decisions can have a lasting effect on your finances,
children, and relationships. We help clients reach
mutually-agreeable solutions with integrity and respect towards all. Collaborative divorce attorney and mediator J. Mark Weiss
can provide assistance to help you reach a consensual agreement. In a
Collaborative Divorce or a divorce mediation, we focus on your priorities and
goals, develop an understanding of the available options, and support you in
making good decisions that are based on your own values.
In divorce 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
lawyers must place intimate details about your life are in the public record (available to anyone). There are other ways: instead of turning over their most important decisions to strangers, more and more divorcing and separating couples are choosing Collaborative divorce or divorce mediation. These couples make their own decisions by selecting a divorce that is more respectful, and which better preserves relationships, dignity, and privacy. This can be done through Collaborative Divorce and divorce mediation with the assistance of lawyers who focus on helping couples in conflict come to agreement.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
You retain the important decisions about your life for yourself ... instead of turning over those decisions to divorce lawyers and/or the court.
At all times, you are an active participant in the process.
You have the assistance of divorce lawyers 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 divorce 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 in the Collaborative Divorce process if you are
considering this option.
Read more about Collaborative Divorce.
When you and your spouse reach resolutions in your divorce 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 for a 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
Hiring divorce lawyers for an old-style divorce (which often involves
actual or threatened court action), is an option that has many disadvantages. Here are some realities about that option:
In a court divorce, a judge makes life-altering decisions for you
based on evidence and lawyers' 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 fees for your lawyer. (The alternative is to take the power struggle out of
your divorce from the beginning.)
A 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, divorce lawyers, and arbitrators lack training in family systems or child development. Most don't even understand that they are simply perpetuating an unhelpful power struggle, and contribute to creating dysfunctional post-divorce families.
In a court divorce, intimate details of your finances and other matters
must not only be disclosed to your divorce lawyer, but become a public record, often permanently available to anyone.
Old-style divorce is structured as an adversarial system, where it is assumed that
the advocacy by a lawyer 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 about divorce and family law.
Instead of the old-style way of having a stranger make the most important decisions in your life, you have the option of selecting a process in which you make your own divorce decisions with
good professional support. Both the Collaborative Divorce process and divorce mediation are designed to allow you to make the decisions about your post-divorce future. When supported by
lawyers who are trained and experienced in this style of divorce
negotiation, couples can often get a divorce settlement that preserves relationships, dignity, and privacy. Instead of engaging in a dynamic that tries to create a “winner” at the expense of a “loser,”
the focus is on the questions to be addressed and possible solutions to those questions.
If this is an option for your divorce, you will need to seek out a divorce
lawyer who offers this service.
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. Collaborative Divorce and
divorce mediation are better at protecting privacy. State law recognizes the
importance of privacy in both processes, and can help protect yours.
In the Collaborative Law process,
state law and an agreement protects all negotiations and ensures that the lawyers
can only focus on settlement. Similarly, divorce mediation is a
confidential process by state law and agreement. 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.
At least tens of thousands of divorcing couples have experienced Collaborative Divorce
and divorce mediation as processes that resulted in excellent outcomes. Both of these processes involve the use of dialogue to arrive at agreements,
each with its own unique advantages. The professional role we serve depends on
is a process in which each party has his or her own trained Collaborative Divorce attorney.
The lawyers work in coordination and often in a coordinated team with other
trained professionals, such as a divorce coach, a neutral financial specialist,
and a neutral child specialist. In the Collaborative Law process, your attorney's sole focus and effort is to help you reach a lasting agreement. The lawyers provide facilitation, advice, and assurance that all of the legal aspects of the divorce are handled correctly.
Read more: Collaborative Divorce.
divorce mediation a neutral mediator assists the divorcing couple reach agreements.
A mediator cannot give legal advice, but keeps the conversation on track. Read
more: Divorce Mediation.
to learn more about all of your
divorce options? Read more:
Family Law and Divorce Options.
Collaborative Divorce and divorce mediation are both effective processes that have helped many couples successfully resolve their disagreements and reach a divorce settlement.
All issues that need to be addressed in most divorces can be resolved in
Collaborative Divorce and in mediation, whether property division, child
support, spousal maintenance (allimony), or parenting (child custody and
both processes work extremely well for many divorcing couples, no process can be right for everyone and it is important that you make the choice that is right for you
and your spouse. We encourage you to learn as much as possible so you can make the right choice. At an initial consultation, we will help you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each of your options given your
unique circumstances, so you can better select the right divorce process for you.
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
Read more about Divorce Mediation.
When parents can preserve a working relationship
through their divorce, and can build a functional co-parenting relationship for their future,
children do better. Parents rarely work better together after a child custody or visitation
court battle, and the children pay the price. Collaborative Divorce is family-focused divorce.
It allows the opportunity for parents to work together to build a healthy and cooperative parenting partnership
for the benefit of the entire family.
Rated among the “25 best” family law attorneys in Washington State by Washington Law and Politics magazine, J. Mark Weiss has
for more than 25 years helped many couples divorce. Mark has extensive
experience in conventional old-style divorce and in mediation and 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 after passing rigorous exams, 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, available divorce process options, and working with divorce lawyers.
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 post-divorce future.
Understand the different divorce 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, divorce mediation, or another divorce 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. How to select a divorce lawyer? Read here: Selecting
a Divorce Lawyer.
From our convenient Seattle location, we serve clients from throughout King County and beyond, including Bellevue, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond, Everett and surrounding areas. Mark provides guidance, insight, skill, and support to help guide you through your divorce or separation, or other family law matter.