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Couples that are going through a divorce in Washington may be able to save time and money by using a collaborative approach to settle some or all of the key issues that arise. Because a collaborative divorce is less formal than one that is litigated, the process can also save both parties from a great deal of stress.

The first step in a collaborative divorce is for each spouse to select an attorney to represent them. Each party should make sure that the attorney who is chosen is familiar and comfortable with the collaborative divorce process. Before the first four-way meeting between the two spouses and their respective attorneys takes place, each spouse should meet with their own attorney privately to discuss the issues that are important to them. The attorney should know ahead of time what agreements a client would be willing to accept in terms of property division, child support and other matters.

After each spouse has met privately with their attorney, several four-way meetings will take place in which the parties attempt to reach agreements about all of the important divorce issues. If needed, child custody specialists, accountants and mediators can be included in the process as well. When a settlement is reached, the settlement agreement and divorce papers will be filed in court and finalized by a judge.

A person who is thinking about using a collaborative law approach to resolve a divorce might want to speak to an attorney about whether the process would work well for their particular case. If a spouse chooses to go forward with a collaborative divorce, an attorney may be able to help ensure that the client's positions on all of the important issues are represented during negotiations.