Collaborative Divorce Provides a Structure for Reaching Good Agreements
The sole objective of the Collaborative Divorce process is to help you reach a good agreement. Because all energy is focused on reaching good, durable, agreements, Collaborative Divorce can be more effective and efficient than conventional lawyer-assisted divorce negotiation or litigation. In many ways, Collaborative Divorce is like mediation but with additional professional support. Each spouse has his/her own Collaborative lawyer who actively co-facilitates the discussions, and who supports and advises you. Other Collaborative professionals with subject matter expertise are commonly added to the team. Because better Collaborative professionals have training and experience using mediation skills, there is no need for a separate mediator.
In Collaborative Divorce, the clients and the lawyers commit to work towards an agreement in good faith—with integrity, with transparency, and with a commitment to not go to court. The focus is solely on helping you and your spouse/partner reach an agreement that is in alignment with your goals, addresses your concerns, and is carefully thought through—and to do so without creating unnecessary or confrontational conflicts. The Collaborative lawyers provide the structure and guidance so negotiations can be safe and supportive. You make your own decisions about your future and participate fully in the discussions.
With the support of your own Collaborative lawyer, you will learn about the decisions to be made and how to address what’s important to you. Because you and your spouse each have individualized professional support, you each have the benefit of advice (and education, if needed) from seasoned professionals to help you consider the full range of options and implications. You have the peace of mind that all the legalities are addressed and the details are properly handled.
A side-by-side comparison between Collaborative Divorce and conventional lawyer-assisted divorce negotiation can be found HERE.
If you are looking to reach an agreement for your divorce that meets the long term needs of your family, contact Seattle divorce attorney Mark Weiss at (206) 622-6707.
Lawyers Aligned with Seeking Resolution
To ensure that the attorneys are entirely aligned with your goal of seeking resolution, Collaborative Divorce attorneys cannot represent their clients in court on contested matters. Collaborative divorce attorneys can only help you reach a settlement and do what is legally needed to formalize your settlement. This encourages everyone (including the lawyers) to do their best to reach agreements, and to use a resolution-focused approach.
There are other benefits. Because going to court is no longer an easy option, many Collaborative Divorce attorneys invest the time and effort needed to learn the negotiation and settlement skills that truly make them settlement specialists. The requirements of Collaborative Divorce also provide comfort that the discussions will remain confidential — no one can use what was heard in court.
While the requirement that Collaborative lawyers cannot go to court on contested matters can provide significant advantages, the primary disadvantage of that requirement is that in the event the Collaborative Divorce process ends without reaching agreement, all parties will need to transition to new lawyers. However, with roughly 90% of Collaborative cases resulting in settlement, many divorcing couples feel that the advantages far outweigh that much less likely potential disadvantage. Most people feel relieved to work with lawyers who cannot make threats of litigation and who are laser-focused on helping them reach agreements. (Collaborative lawyers still prepare all the legal paperwork to formalize your agreements, including all court appearances that may be needed.)
Focus on a Durable Divorce Agreement
The measure of success in Collaborative Divorce is achieving a resolution that is durable. Achieving a durable resolution instead of a temporary cease-fire requires that everyone can accept the settlement at the time it is made, and continue to accept it later. A durable agreement is much less likely to return to court to enforce its terms, or to be modified. A durable resolution also leaves you better equipped for your future, including a better ability to co-parent your children and even to productively resolve future disputes.
This requires more than just having legally binding divorce papers. The quality of the agreement between you and your spouse is what will count. Achieving such durability requires a different way of negotiating, and the structure of the Collaborative Divorce process supports that way of negotiating.
The Collaborative Divorce Professional Team
To provide the best likelihood of success, a trained interdisciplinary Collaborative professional team is typically recommended. The “standard” professional team usually consists of a financial specialist, at least one divorce coach, and a child specialist. By working with trained Collaborative professionals with subject matter expertise who are integrated into the process, you can receive the highest level of service in a cost-effective manner.
Priorities and Goals Are Key in Collaborative Divorce
Resolving disputes means that your goals and priorities need to be identified, and then productively discussed and addressed. Collaborative Divorce lawyers will therefore normally spend time to help you unlock and share your interests and goals, and prioritize them, as a guiding light towards resolution. Your goals, interests, needs, concerns, and priorities, are discussed in a safe and respectful environment.
Your Collaborative Divorce lawyer will focus on what you’ve identified to be what’s important to your future—your goals and priorities—so they’re not overlooked. The lawyers help guide you towards a mutually satisfying outcome in which you and your spouse can reach a meeting of the minds–where you can both say “yes.”Both lawyers try to help ensure that everyone’s concerns are addressed, because otherwise the agreement probably won’t be durable. While perhaps paradoxical, you and your spouse are effectively partners in creating an agreement that is durable for both of you.
If you are looking to reach an agreement for your divorce that meets the long term needs of your family, please contact Seattle divorce attorney Mark Weiss at (206) 622-6707.
A Client’s Experience of Collaborative Divorce
We were thrilled to learn that Liz, one of our former clients, discussed her experience of Collaborative Divorce in an article in Seattle Woman Magazine. To read the article, click HERE.
Other Resources about Collaborative Divorce
There are several excellent books available on Collaborative Divorce, listed on the Recommended Reading page, available from booksellers.
The links below provide additional information from other sources about Collaborative divorce:
American Bar Association Handbook for Clients concerning Collaborative Divorce.
IACP Collaborative Practice Knowledge Kit
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (Includes a directory of Collaborative Law professionals)
King County Collaborative Law (Includes a directory of Seattle-area Collaborative Law professionals)