Washington Collaborative Divorce Lawyer In Seattle
Negotiate, Don’t Litigate Your Divorce
The Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce lawyers at Truce Law can help you reach a divorce agreement at the negotiating table instead of in the courtroom. When you choose the collaborative divorce process in Seattle, Washington your collaborative divorce attorneys can work with you and your former partner to craft a divorce settlement that works, and then submit your paperwork electronically or by mail, without the need for stressful court dates, costly litigation, or the risk of leaving personal matters (like child custody or division of assets) up to a judge to decide.
With collaborative divorce, both you and your former partner agree to resolve your differences outside court and to act in good faith. Your collaborative divorce team will include your collaborative lawyer (who represents your best interests), your former partner’s collaborative lawyer (who represents his or her best interests), and possibly other specialists. For example, your collaborative divorce team in Seattle, Washington may include counselors, financial planners, parenting coaches, and mental health professionals who can help guide you as you make major decisions for your future. The choices you make during your divorce can impact your life for years to come. Divorcing couples need to make decisions about dividing assets, debts, and retirement accounts, and make decisions about child custody. You cannot change a divorce agreement once it has been finalized by the court, and it can be very difficult to change a parenting plan once it has been finalized. It is important to get it right the first time. Making decisions peacefully, rather than through the adversarial process makes it more likely that you’ll be able to reach a financial and legal resolution that is best for all parties involved.
The alternative to collaborative divorce is the adversarial divorce process, in which both you and your former partner each hire your own lawyers who will spend time preparing you for court. With the adversarial process, each party fights to win and negotiations happen either in the courtroom or through court-ordered mediation. The reality is that divorce is rarely a situation where “the winner takes all.” Even divorces that go to court end in compromise.
In King County, for example, you are required to go through mediation before you go to court. If you cannot afford a mediator, you will be appointed one through Family Court Services, but like public defenders, these mediators are often overworked and may have limited resources. If you can afford a private mediator, you’ll need to schedule a couple months out and do extensive preparation.
With the collaborative divorce process, you begin where other couples often end up—at the negotiating table. Rather than spending thousands of dollars preparing for court, you and your former partner can invest in a team of professionals who can help you fairly and peacefully divide assets, debts, retirement accounts, and make important parenting decisions.
A collaborative divorce in Seattle, Washington can prepare you and your former partner to be better co-parents and can help you and your former partner set aside anger and resentments to make crucial financial decisions. Divorce often involves anger and hurt feelings, which the adversarial process often makes worse. The collaborative divorce lawyers in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can meet you where you are, and bring together a strong team to help you get divorced in a way that involves compromise, negotiation, and mutual understanding.
Justin W. Aanenson, Attorney
What is a Seattle, Washington Collaborative Divorce Like?
In many ways, your Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce will be like the traditional divorce process. Both you and your former partner will each hire your own collaborative divorce attorney who will represent your interests and work to help you reach a divorce settlement that works. The key difference with the collaborative divorce process is that before the process begins, you and your former partner both sign a “collaborative participation agreement” in which you agree to settle your differences outside court rather than in court.
While every collaborative divorce is different, here is a general outline of what can happen during a collaborative divorce:
- Setting Goals. During the collaborative divorce process, you, your collaborative lawyer, your partner, and his or her collaborative lawyer, sit down in private to determine what each of you hopes to gain from the divorce. Sometimes both parties agree entirely about what to do, and your collaborative divorce lawyers can work together to formalize the agreement, make sure everything is correct, and send the paperwork to court. In other cases, both parties might agree about some things and disagree about others. This is where the collaborative divorce process can really help you.
- Negotiation. If you and your former partner don’t agree about some aspects of your divorce, then you’ll enter the negotiation phase of the collaborative divorce process. The way the negotiation phase will play out will depend largely on what kind of disagreements you need to work through. Your collaborative divorce lawyers in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can bring to the table a wide range of conflict resolution strategies to help you and your former partner reach a settlement that works. We can also bring experts to the table who can help guide you as you navigate the difficult decisions that must be made when you divorce. If you are having difficulty about child custody or getting your visitation schedule right, parenting coaches, counselors, or mental health professionals can help. If you don’t know what to do with the family home, you may need to speak to loan officers to learn refinancing options, financial planners, or real estate agents. If you don’t know exactly how to divide your assets, an accountant, financial planner, or other expert can help.
- Settlement. Once you and your former partner agree, your Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce lawyers at Truce Law can formalize your agreement and send your paperwork to court by mail or electronically. In most cases, you’ll never have to step foot in court.
Collaborative divorce in Seattle, Washington can save you time and money, protect your privacy, and reduce stress. Truce Law is a Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce law firm able to bring conflict reduction strategies to the table, helping you and your former partner reach a divorce settlement, peacefully. Call a truce. Call Truce Law.
How Collaborative Divorce Can Help You with Child Custody in Seattle, Washington
If you have children, one of the most difficult and important choices you’ll need to make during your divorce involves deciding where your children will live, how your visitation schedule will be arranged, and how major decisions about the children will be made. Research shows that when parents can reduce conflict in divorce, children tend to do better emotionally and psychologically. The collaborative divorce process gives you and your former partner the tools you need to make decisions about where your children will live, how visitation will be arranged, and how major decisions will be made. Your collaborative divorce team may include your Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce lawyer at Truce Law as well as parenting coaches, therapists, counselors, and mental health professionals. The collaborative divorce process doesn’t just help you craft a parenting plan, it gives you and your former partner the sound foundation you need to become better co-parents. The shift from parenting when you are cohabitating and married to co-parenting when you live apart can be difficult. A Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce lawyer and your collaborative divorce team can prepare you and your partner to be a better co-parenting team.
How Collaborative Divorce Can Help You Divide Property in Seattle, Washington
If you and your former partner share a home, share a retirement account, or have shared investments or savings, you’ll need to make decisions during your divorce that can affect your financial life for years to come. If you have a retirement account, you’ll need to determine whether the account is marital property or shared property and divide the account in accordance with IRS regulations, so you don’t face penalties. If you purchased a home together, you’ll need to decide what will happen to the family home. Will you sell the home and split the proceeds, or will one of you refinance and put the home in your name? When couples cannot make decisions about what to do with shared property and take their divorce to court, there’s the risk that a judge might order the property sold. If the housing market isn’t favorable, this can affect your investment and future. The Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce lawyers at Truce Law can help you and your former partner look at your financial picture, differentiate between separate property and marital property, and divide your assets in a way that is fair and in accordance with your goals.
Can Collaborative Divorce Help Me Divide Debts in Seattle, Washington?
If you created shared debts during your marriage, or if one or both of you opened new lines of credit or created new debts while you were married, these debts might be considered marital debts in Seattle, Washington. Any debts created during your marriage are legally shared debts and both parties in the marriage are responsible for them. Yet, it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between how divorce court will view marital debts and how creditors might view shared debts, now and in the future. Let’s examine this more closely.
Let’s say you and your partner opened a credit card together after you got married. The credit card is in both your names. Both of you charge items to this credit card. Most people would agree that in your divorce, this should be considered a shared debt, and split accordingly.
Let’s also say your partner also opened a credit card in his or her own name after you got married, and he charges items to this credit card. Let’s just say that while you pay attention to what’s going on the shared credit card, you don’t really pay too close attention to the credit card he has in his own name.
Now that you’re getting divorced, it’s important to understand that under Washington divorce law, you are both responsible for both credit cards, and both of these debts are considered shared marital liabilities or debts. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if your spouse got the credit card in secret and used it to gamble or spend money on affairs, you might be able to make a case that he alone should be responsible for these debts, and you may win, but the burden will be on you to make the case.
Things get complicated with debt, because if in your divorce agreement only one person agrees to be responsible for paying a debt in both your names, but you keep both your names on the account after your divorce, creditors can still technically come after you if your former partner declares bankruptcy or otherwise refuses to pay the debt. You’d need to show the creditors your divorce decree, possibly end up in court, and face a long, costly, and stressful process of clearing up the issue. This is why dividing debt needs to be handled carefully and, in some cases, with the help of financial planners. The cleanest solution is for the person who will pay the debt to find a way to put the debt solely in his or her own name. This may involve refinancing mortgages and loans, consolidating credit cards, or opening lines of credit in one person’s name and using these new lines of credit to pay off shared lines of credit.
Dividing debt can be messy, but it doesn’t need to involve a costly court battle. You and your partner can divide debt peacefully, through collaborative divorce. Your collaborative divorce lawyer in Seattle, Washington can use conflict resolution and negotiation strategies to help you find a peaceful resolution to your financial challenges.
Can Collaborative Divorce Help Me Divide My Retirement Account in Seattle, Washington?
Alongside the family home, your retirement account is probably your largest marital asset. If you have a pension plan from work or have a shared retirement plan with your spouse, you’ll need to determine if it is marital property and subject to division during your divorce. You can’t just withdraw money from a retirement plan. There are strict IRS rules about how you need to divide these assets during a divorce to avoid penalties. If you do need to divide a retirement account, you may have many options through the collaborative divorce process. In some cases, both partners keep their names as beneficiaries and agree to split the proceeds when the time comes. In other cases, one partner keeps the retirement account while the other person might keep the family home or other assets. Dividing retirement accounts can get complicated, but you don’t have to navigate the process alone. A collaborative divorce lawyer in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can walk you through the process, help you understand your rights, and help you with the next steps.
Is Collaborative Divorce in Seattle, Washington an Option for a High-Net-Worth Divorce?
If you are a high-earning couple, or if one partner in the marriage is a high-earner, there may be special implications for your divorce. High net worth divorce raises unique issues. Over the course of your marriage your investments may have grown, and you may have invested in properties together. If you have overseas accounts, run a business together, or have other major assets or debts dividing finances during divorce can get complicated.
Some couples might think that litigation is the only answer for a high net worth couple, but the reality is that high net worth couples can also use the collaborative divorce process to reach a divorce settlement. Your collaborative divorce team in Seattle, Washington can include forensic accountants, financial planners, real estate professionals and more to help you and your former partner reach the best possible divorce settlement. Before you and your former partner begin the collaborative process you both sign an agreement that you’ll settle the divorce privately, outside court, and that you’ll act in good faith in disclosing your financial information throughout the process. Because both parties are each represented by their own collaborative divorce lawyer, your lawyer can look out for your interests, whether you are the higher earning party, or the lower earning party. Contact Truce Law, a Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce law firm today to learn more about how collaborative divorce can help you if you are a high net worth couple thinking of filing for divorce. Many aspects of the discovery process can be brought to the negotiating table.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce in Seattle, Washington
Collaborative divorce in Seattle, Washington can save you time, money, and protect your privacy. Because you aren’t preparing for court, you can save thousands in billable legal hours and invest in hiring experts to join your collaborative divorce team who can help you craft a divorce settlement that protects your financial interests with compromise and care. Because you won’t be waiting for a court date or a judge to have time to hear your case, your divorce timeline is yours. It can take months or even up to a year to get a divorce court date, and mediation is required before you can take your case to court.
Collaborative divorce begins where they end up—at the negotiation table. When you and your former partner reach an agreement, your collaborative divorce attorney in Seattle, Washington can send your paperwork to court by mail or electronically, allowing the process to move along faster. Because you won’t be fighting in court, your divorce negotiations will also remain private. When you take a divorce to court, everything you say in court can end up on the public record. Best of all, when you choose the collaborative divorce process you reduce stress, conflict, and animosity. Truce Law is a collaborative divorce law firm in Seattle, Washington with the conflict resolution strategies and negotiation tools to help you begin your single life on the right foot, with a sound plan if you have children, and a strong settlement that is fair.