Collaborative Divorce

A better way to move forward without the court

A Collaborative Divorce is ideal when:

You’d prefer to resolve your divorce outside of the court system, but feel that you each should work with your own attorney, so you’re able to make the best decisions regarding finances or parenting.

This unique process allows you to:

Maintain Privacy

Confidential negotiations are held in private and settled without any public court hearings.

Know the Cost

Costs are more predictable than litigation, saving you from the stress of unknown legal fees.

Sustain Control

Families feel powerless leaving decisions to a court. With this process you decide the outcome.

Don’t leave it to the judge

Partner in collaboration for a better outcome

Most people are worried about three things in divorce: privacy, cost, and control. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you choose a collaborative divorce, both you and your spouse will be empowered to reach an agreement outside the court. Collaborative attorneys help you settle everything out of court, including the following:

Property Division

Business Owners

Home Owners

Parenting Plans

Gifts & Inheritance

Quit Claim Deeds

Pregnant Spouse

Insurance Policies

Retirement Accounts

Child Relocation

Separation Contracts

Transfer Title

Tax Planning

Debt Allocation

Spousal Support

Bankruptcy

About the process

What to expect in a collaborative divorce?

You can expect your collaborative divorce to be a transparent process that takes place in private. You’ll be represented by an attorney and so will your spouse. However, each attorney will sign an agreement stating they will not to take the case to trial. Settlement discussions will take place with both lawyers and spouses present, with the goal to reach a fair and lasting agreement.

What is a collaborative divorce?

Simply put, a collaborative divorce is a negotiation that takes place in private between spouses and their attorneys, often with the help of neutral experts, such as financial advisors or child specialists.    

The attorneys work individually with their client and assist with negotiations, which are done in a group setting with everyone present. Experts are used to provide unbiased assistance with specialized issues.

In 2013, Governor Jay Inslee signed the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. This means that unlike other divorce processes, Collaborative Divorce gives participants unique legal protections established in Washington law. 

A unique element of this process is that the attorneys sign a participation agreement, which includes a clause that they are barred from taking the case to trial. The agreement ensures that the attorneys make every effort to resolve the case within the collaborative process.

What is wrong with collaborative divorce?

While a great solution in many cases, collaborative divorce isn’t for everyone.  It’s important that you understand what you’re committing to when you choose a collaborative divorce.

First,  you may not want to negotiate directly with your spouse. A crucial element of the collaborative process is that you work together. If the idea of tackling property division or a parenting plan in the same room, sounds excruciating or useless then a collaborative divorce is not for you. 

Second, the collaborative process isn’t guaranteed to succeed and there are consequences if it fails. 

Either spouse may choose to abandon the collaborative process for any reason at any time. If this happens the case can be set for trial and progress you’ve made may be lost. In addition,  your attorney will likely be required to withdraw. This can be a shock if you had a good relationship with your lawyer and you’re forced to find someone new.

Third, just because collaborative divorce takes place outside the courtroom doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Objectively speaking collaborative divorce is expensive, since both spouses work with an attorney and neutral experts are brought on for specific tasks. That said, paying for one expert’s neutral opinion is cheaper than paying for two biased opinions at trial.

Will collaborative divorce benefit my child?

You can’t protect your child from the stress and disruption of divorce, but collaborative divorce can help you provide a stable home environment for your child afterwards. A study which appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family by Ohio State researchers, showed that children in a stable family situation after divorce were measurably more successful than those children who lived in unstable families after divorce. When measured at age 26, children from stable divorced families achieved more academically, earned higher incomes and had higher occupational prestige. 

One of the strengths of the collaborative divorce is that agreements tend to last. Since parenting decisions are made together, parents feel a sense of ownership of the agreement. That’s not the case if a judge determines custody for you. This sense of ownership, leads to higher satisfaction with the arrangement and more stability.

In addition, child specialists are available to help create a future that is healthy and stable for the child. A child specialist is a certified mental health professional with expertise in child development and collaborative divorce. The goal of a specialist is to give the child a voice, while shielding them from direct involvement in the divorce. 

How long will a collaborative divorce take?

In most cases a collaborative divorce will take around 6 months. Often three to six group sessions are scheduled to address specific issues. In between meetings, participants will accomplish various tasks to address items that came up in discussion and to prepare for the next meeting.

Collaborative Divorce: Divorce Without the Courtroom

“Be prepared to get involved…By working together you’ll be able to understand your spouse’s concerns and goals and ideally discuss options that can work for both of you.”

Conversations during a session can be intense, so we prefer to limit meetings to three hours. Generally, our clients get the most out of multiple short meetings opposed to say, an all day session. Once we’ve had a chance to cover all the meaningful issues finalizing the paperwork should take a week or two.

In all Washington divorces, the court requires a case to sit for 90 days before it can be reviewed by a judge. Because of the mandatory waiting period, three months is the minimum amount of time to resolve a case.

Resources when you need additional support

Depending on your circumstances, you may want help in addition to your attorney. We have a network of outside experts available to act as neutral advisors to both spouses. Not only does the opinion of an unbiased expert give credibility to a settlement, it is generally less expensive than hiring a lawyer to do the same tasks.

Mental Health

Works to identify emotional issues preventing solutions & improves communication.

Child Specialists

Can help a child feel heard & assist parents to address emotional and daily needs.

Financial Advisors

Provides detailed financial understanding to spouses in order to reach settlement.

Real Estate Agents

Provides refinancing options and best strategies for homes & other real estate,

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Responsive + Helpful

“Always responsive, answers all questions without hesitation, helpful and kind. Glad I could have such a well educated attorney to help me with my legal needs.”

Tiffany B. | Yelm, WA

Above + Beyond

“I could not have made a better choice in attorneys than Justin of Truce Law. The direct one-on-one help and willingness to work with me off-hours when I needed it was really above and beyond.”

Doug L. | Puyallup, WA

Available + Empathetic

“Professional, available, empathetic, and honest. He provided excellent advice, processed three quit claims, reviewed a QDRO, a separation agreement (discovering in the process a major accounting error as well as missing real estate property)”

Russ F. | Seattle, WA

Thorough + Attentive

“Remarkably thorough in his approach to the law. He is attentive to detail, thoughtful and very personable. I recommend him and his legal expertise to anyone hoping for a measured and thoughtful outcome.”

Cynthia D. | Bothell, WA

Prompt + Knowledgeable

“Justin made the stressful and difficult divorce process much easier. He was professional, prompt, and knowledgeable. I recommend him if you are in need of a divorce settlement lawyer.”

Adam R. | Seattle, WA

Have questions? We can help.

Message for a free case evaluation

Have questions? We can help. 

Message for a free case evaluation