Washington couples who are facing the end of their marriage may want to consider a collaborative divorce as an alternative to litigation. A collaborative divorce may lead to a better outcome for spouses and their children because it encourages the couple to work together toward the best outcome for everyone. A collaborative divorce may also be cheaper and quicker than a traditional divorce. Divorces that go to trial can drag on for years while a collaborative divorce may be resolved in three or four months. Privacy is another advantage of this alternative.
However, there may be disadvantages to this approach. In a collaborative divorce, spouses agree to share financial information and other documents, but there is no way to force a spouse to do so as in a court case. Furthermore, one spouse may tend to take advantage of the other spouse. For these reasons, it may be important to have an experienced attorney who can take steps to protect the client's interests if situations like these arise.
Participating in the collaborative divorce process is also no guarantee against conflict. Negotiations may become contentious or break down. However, spouses do have an investment in continuing the collaborative process in that they have to hire new attorneys and begin again if they cannot move forward. Therefore, most collaborative divorces do not end up having to going to trial.
Individuals who are divorcing may want to consider working with an attorney who has experience with alternative dispute resolution processes such as collaborative divorce or divorce mediation. This may be particularly true if the couple has children because if the parents are able to negotiate during the divorce, they may be able to carry those skills over into parenting together after the marriage has ended. With the savings in time and money and the reduction in conflict, a collaborative divorce may benefit all involved.